On the hill: Crazy like a fox, or maybe just bored
ASPEN – I love idioms. More precisely, I like to study the origin of idioms.
I received a first-hand lesson on the origin of “crazy like a fox” while skinning up Tiehack last Saturday afternoon.
I had designated Saturday afternoon as tax preparation day and stuck to the plan despite the awesome weather. Upon completing the task, I rewarded myself and my dog, Ginger, with a skin up Buttermilk. We departed the parking lot at 5 p.m. and zoomed up the hill under ideal conditions – warm temperatures, soft snow and very few people.
About three-quarters of the way up Sterner trail we saw a fair-sized reddish fox at the edge of the trees. He or she wasn’t too spooked. I’ve seen a fox up there occasionally before, so I suspect it and its mates are accustomed to seeing people.
We saw the fox again on the way down, this time a little closer. I skied downhill from it and was about 25 yards away. The fox ignored me and fixated on my dog, running behind. Ginger slowed to a walk when she saw I stopped. Who knows what was going on in the mind of that fox, but to me it was trying to entice Ginger into some sort of activity. The fox crouched down, not like a scared cat while assessing a situation but like a playful dog in faux ambush position.
Ginger saw the fox as she sauntered closer to me, but she ignored it rather than give chase. Ginger’s a bit of a head case. She is a Katrina rescue dog who spent puppyhood in a Mississippi kennel. She’s not afraid to mix it up with other dogs, but she’s afraid of cats. I suspect her indifference to the fox was more a case of the jitters.
I’ve had two people tell me stories over the years about their dogs playing with wild foxes, one at the old Mount Sopris Tree Farm. I never quite believed them, but now I’m not so sure. The Tiehack fox watched Ginger walk past and kind of came out of its crouch, seemingly begging for attention. Maybe it wanted to play, or maybe it viewed Ginger as a smorgasbord for the rest of the winter and wanted to lure the 60-pound, strong canine into the woods.
That would be crazy – like a fox.
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