Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Casualty of Drought

The other day, while driving southwest on Springdale Road to work, I spotted something that was not immediately unusual to see on that stretch – roadkill. As I got closer, however, I could tell it wasn’t the usual. Normally, fatalities include skunks, squirrels, possums, cats, frogs, snakes and the occasional armadillo. I thought it might be a small dog.

Just as I drove past, I could make out the unmistakable pointed nose and ears and cinnamon coat. It was a red fox, lying peacefully on its side, as if sleeping.

Ein Fuchs.

As I’ve discussed in a previous fox post, I’m a believer in “magical thinking,” as the late author/actor/ monologist Spalding Gray called it. I knocked on my steering wheel as if it were made of wood.

It was disturbing to see my namesake animal laid out like that. I’ve been hearing stories lately of how the extreme heat and drought conditions have been causing discrete and nocturnal animals to venture out into the sunlight in urban locales like Northeast Austin. Specifically, I heard a story on KUT, our local NPR affiliate, about a surge of coyote sightings. I wondered if maybe I’d mistaken a coyote for a fox, but by the time I passed the carnage the next morning, it had been so decimated as to be an indistinguishable and vaguely ginger-colored stain on the road. “Street pizza,” as they say.

As for me and my magical thinking, I’ll be particularly careful when crossing the street. I don’t want to be the next Fuchs to be laminated.

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