I killed a fox a few nights ago. A little cub.
Thought I’d get it off my conscience and write down some reflections that it has forced on me.
I have only recently started driving, happily being ferried about my nearest and dearest and using public transport until moving out into the country, onto farmland without pavements or streetlights to connect me to anything. As I headed away from the city and moved into converted stables, finding a job outside of London, I felt like I was closer to nature – waking up to birdsong and finding my way home in the bright moonlight of the unpolluted sky. But it came to be impractical and I would need to learn to drive. This was the reality of my situation.
The novelty wore off pretty quickly having to drive an hour to and from work daily. I was talking to friend recently, a Kerouac-idolising romantic, about how he gave up his car in favour of cycling and he made some points that struck me. About how driving separates you from your community by making you so able to work further away from home instead of supporting local businesses. In one sense it would seem you have opened up access to the rest of the world, but in another you shield yourself from experiencing it, on the journey anyway. Constrained to your bubble you are transported place to place with only glances out of the window stolen from the road.
I’m reminded of The Duncan Trussell Family Hour Podcast, a few episodes from a few years back, in which he had just started cycling and had some personal revelation more powerful than the cumulative affect of all the acid he has taken. In these few episodes he would open the podcast with a lengthy monologue about how cycling was connecting him to the world, how he was experiencing hills. For Trussell, hills serve as a symbol – you work harder to ride up and you earn the pleasure and ease of riding back down. In a car you mow through them and experience nothing.
Okay I’m not a cycling enthusiast, and am irked by the self-righteousness that usually accompanies the eco-warrior, even if I am sympathetic to the cause and have never done anything about it. It’s more that these ponderings were the very same that were plaguing me this past week when I travelling down one of these country roads and from nowhere a small fox ran out under my car.
I didn’t even feel any impact, it was just the timing. I had to turn the car around and patrol the road to see if I had in fact caught it. Sure enough there in the middle of the road was an adorable little cub, paws twitching an all. Fucksake. Hazards on I pulled up, angry and upset I had to work out how I was going to deal with this, how I was going to fix or finish what I had started. I knelt down in the road to pick him up, careful to hold him properly. In that moment, when I was worrying about what gore I might be uncovering, if I was doing any damage, he became extremely light and lifeless. In my hands no less. So there’s weak and weary ol’ me wandering down a country road holding a tiny cub that I’d just slain with my car. I walk in as far as I can and lay him down before going back to my car.
Since that night I’ve been stuck thinking about the entitlement of road using, of how there is a pecking order that has vehicles prioritised, bikes even. It’s strange that the onus is on the people around the roads to take care, rather than the other way around. There’s a short article well worth reading about the invention of Jaywalking that shows how this entitlement has been manufactured and the blame has shifted hands, how cars were seen as the intruders of roads meant for people up until the 1930s, but now vehicles are protected and there are laws that blame the people that aren’t in metal cage for not crossing roads properly.
I guess I’ll blame my actions on the fox not being alert enough, for not using crossings properly.