“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince"
Copyright Karen Schuenemann, Wilderness At Heart Photography. All rights reserved.
"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "The Little Prince"
The Fox Chronicles, 10 Years in the Making"
"anthropomorphism" [ (an-thruh-puh- mawr -fiz-uhm) ]
The attributing of human characteristics and purposes to inanimate objects, animals, plants, or other natural phenomena, or to God. To describe a rushing river as “angry” is to anthropomorphize it.
"The Fox Chronicles"
"The Fox Chronicles" is a story of Red Fox survival on the cliffs of San Pedro. The Chronicles are a collection of images that go back ten years or more. They illustrate the very real families of Red Foxes that have made this particular stretch of land their home. These beautiful creatures have denned here, over and over, and attempted to safely raise their young pups. The odds of survival for the kits during the first year is an average 30%. The parents have played, fed, taught, disciplined and watched as their young have grown and dispersed. Red Foxes are not native to this area, but they are scrappy animals, that have dug in, adapted and survived. I have spent hundreds of hours watching these animals. I've seen the parents ferociously protect their young. I've watched them repeatedly bring them food while the other adult watches and makes sure that the kits stay safe. I've seen the adults play, wrestle, chase, and roll in the field, seemingly carefree and gentle and truly enjoying their offspring. I've watched the adults teach their kits to hunt, to steer away from humans, to hide when the Peregrine dives at them, to make sure that their kits listen to their guidance. I've seen the kits run amok and the parents take things into their paws, and fix the situation, letting the kits know that they weren't to do something again. I've heard them squeal in play and pain. The kits have fought with the siblings, the parents with each other, and the parents and kits have erupted in fights. The foxes have survived between homes, roads, people and other predators. I have found a fox carcass in the neighboring park, mauled by coyotes. I've seen their tiny bodies on the adjacent road killed by cars, as they attempted to cross and hunt in the field nearby. I've seen a Mom Red Fox appear with a severely torn ear, and a missing kit.
This is their tale, their story, their lives captured over the years in my digital camera. This also is telling their story through my eyes, my brain, and my heart. The connection is real and it is important. It tells us how man and animals can survive in this urban wildness.
We use the term anthropomorphism when we attribute human characteristics and purposes to animals; however I challenge this and suggest that we learn from the animals how to be better humans. The emotions that we observe within the Fox families are real, not labels that human simply apply to their behaviors. The ability to connect with nature seems to offer a life raft to the natural world, and gratitude and hope override the despair that creeps into my heart sometimes when I watch these animals.
During 2020 COVID, I visited the Red Foxes every single day while we were in quarantine. It was a privilege and pleasure to be able to see the kits grow and develop, and I'm hoping that they have a bright future. This kept me anchored during this crazy period in our history to what is important, what is beautiful, what is unique, and what is special in our world. On the dark days of COVID, these animals brightened my day and my life, and I hope that they can do the same for you.
I hope that you enjoy these images and my passion for making them.