On Tuesday the 19th November the Grove and Rufford Hounds met on the Nottinghamshire /South Yorkshire borders at Scaftworth to mark the year’s anniversary of Ralph Mitchell’s death following a fall out hunting near the village. An hour before the meet, Ralph’s partner Sally, Whipper In Jane Wright and I went down to the spot beside the River Idle where events had so tragically unfolded twelve months before. After a few moments private reflection we made our way back to the meet at the Hall, where we remembered Ralph and spoke of the fox’s strange appearance in the garden there just before and after he died. Later on as dusk began to fall on what had been a beautiful day, a very large fox was seen no more than a hundred and fifty yards from the place where Ralph had taken his last fall and where Sally had earlier that morning laid flowers. No fox had ever been seen here before. He knew exactly where he was going, firstly making his appearance very clearly for all to see on the river bank and then making his way back towards Scaftworth village where he disappeared.
At exactly 4.15 pm on Tuesday 26th November, I turned down the hill in Brent Pelham to go to the Puckeridge Kennels, something I have done numerous times before. Leaving the Church on my left I suddenly noticed sitting right on the roadside verge, right opposite my family graves was a very large dark red fox! In the headlights I could see him quite clearly right in front of me. Off he trotted under the gate and away into what had at one time been our vegetable garden! I have written at least twice now about how our vulpine friends have been regular visitors here and how for generations there has been a distinctive fox which runs down the bank onto the road and then up into the churchyard. This however, was further evidence that it has not been a one off occurrence but continues to happen. Now and again though, one or other of the family is not only lucky enough to witness it but most of all appreciate the peculiarities of our old friends, something we will never truly understand. On this occasion I was fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time.
Lastly as night fell on the Wednesday the 27th of November after a discussion earlier that day with the Huntsman of the Fernie about foxes getting together about now, I let my three dogs out to do what all dogs need to do before bed. In the fields just behind the house was a vixen calling. She was very vociferous and kept on going until she began to lose her voice, but still she would not give up and continued until her cries faded away into the night. I will always wonder if after her strenuous efforts she found her mate. I sincerely hope so, she certainly deserved to do so!
Well the foxes in Nottinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Lincolnshire have all recently been active in their own distinctive ways. They have certainly given us time to just pause for thought for a moment in this busy world of ours, and long may this continue.