Last Updated On June 6, 2014

 

Canidae Vulpis and the Wilds of Parenting

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I.

The tiny animal was prancing in broad view of everyone. Her extravagant tail gave every movement a showy elegance, an elegance that was highlighted by her copper colored coat shining in the sun. She hopped along lightly and happily somewhere between a lope and run. Traffic stopped, and all eyes were on her. She circled the building in a wide arc, crossing the parking lot. We watched her, delighted and amused. Her paws seemed to hardly touch earth. She was enjoying being herself immensely.

I felt thunderstruck. That morning I had written a story, or the start of a story, with a fox as a central character. It was a rare attempt for me, to write with no plan, to dive into a story and see what is to be found there. I am generally not skilled at improv, either in real life or on the page. What I came up with was a fable about a lost boy and a fox. The story I wrote didn’t make a lot of sense, and I didn’t think it would amount to much, and was probably not worth pursuing. And now here was a fox dancing across my path like a crazy messenger.

* * *
I want to tell you about everything that little animal represented in that moment, but I’m a little torn. Let me back up, and explain. The fox is my son. My oldest boy, who is now thirteen, and with whom I share an intense relationship. I want to tell people about him, and the life we have shared, but I also need to respect his privacy. And so I am treading carefully. But there is no question about him: he is a fox.

He is smart, and sly, and has an avid wit. He is quiet, and sneaky, sneaky sneaky. His nocturnal nature is deeply ingrained, making early morning school prep an often contentious battle of wills. His hair which he has grown very long, can best be described as russet. Or copper. Or, when the sun hits just right, flame. And when he bites, it is needle sharp, and deadly accurate.

The story I wrote is a fable about a boy lost in a spooky forest, who befriends a fox. It’s not a particularly great story, but I am going ahead with it, illustrating it with large collaged paintings and putting it up on the walls of the gallery where I have an annual show. The boy in the story is my son. The fox in the story is also my son. The only other character in the story is the forest itself, and that represents my son’s depression.

There is a lifetime’s worth of things wanting to spill out of me at this point, but I’m holding back, for the sake of his privacy. So, I’ll leave it there: he has battled depression. And as everyone who is prone to depression knows, it’s always there. You’re never just healed of it.

So, I wrote this story, and I’m working on the illustrations, and I am
a little conflicted. It is a tale that I want to tell, but my son has every right not to be fodder for his father’s lousy artistic ambitions. Neither does he need his story told on the Internet.

* * *
The fox that skipped so lightly across my path that day drew a lot of attention. Her cavorting triggered some safety worries. Animals like her behaving strangely are assumed to be sick, possibly rabid. An inversion of normal behavior is indication of illness.

But sometimes the ‘inversion’ is the normal state. I would not describe my son as being an overly happy child. While not in a state of depression currently, the exuberant happiness one assumes to be the normal state of childhood has never been his. (Or, I should say, mine.) Neither of us let our emotions run wild. People often mistake this for aloofness or suppression. For he and I, it feels natural; it is other people with their obsessions and drama, their runaway passions, that seem a little sick or crazy.

* * *
The thrill, the wild thrill of that moment when that fox came barreling up to me was a rare sensation; it was like one of those stories I hear others tell that usually leave me a little skeptical, when someone’s internal strivings are suddenly made manifest in a convenient and illustrative coincidence. Like weak screenwriting, that spells it all out for the audience. In general I shy away from projecting my story on the world, because sometimes, most times, a fox is just a fox.

And a boy need not suffer the same projections of his dad either. My son makes me proud in ways that I find hard to put into words. He recently turned thirteen, that age when we begin, at least symbolically anyway, the struggle of defining ourselves. He has been engaged in this struggle far longer than most kids his age. More and more, the way I see forward as a father is not as a lesson giver or authority figure, but simply as an example. Helping someone down the path of self creation requires you to walk ahead of them. Pride in oneself is not something that comes naturally to me, but it does seem to be essential. Just ask that radiant fox .

© Grady Kane-Horrigan

fox collage

© Camryn Richmond-Lauffer (top left, middle, and bottom) © Janie Richmond-Lauffer (top right)

Find out more about Camryn and Janie here: http://www.illuminousflux.com/?page_id=76
II.

The fox den is situated right between a parking lot, a barn, and a construction road. The kits sit on the rocks in the sun as the huge, roaring front-end loader thunders in and out of the lot endlessly. They play like happy cats, in plain view of a valet pumping gas. Mama fox, trotting so lightly she almost hovers, carries a limp possum across a horse corral, three connecting roads, a sunny lawn and to the shaded rocks, all under the gaze of several delighted and aghast witnesses. The Wildness is breathtaking and heartbreaking. The odds aren’t good; they have no wariness. They’re comfortable in the most dangerous way. And it shames us all, to see them so free, so full of delight, full of themselves, their purity and rich animal beauty. Being so adjacent to garbage, and noise, and dumb, lumbering steel monsters.

* * *
Wild. It is a word of so many meanings. To be wild is to break free from the rules; to be wild is to never have been under the rules in the first place. Wild can be crazy, or dangerous, can even be romantic. ‘Wildness’ has become a quasi spiritualism, beloved by those who seek mysticism but reject religion.

For several years my son attended a nature camp that emphasized deep wildness. It was heavily committed to giving kids a raw, mud-soaked natural experience. There were days he came home sopping wet and feeling giddy and liberated; there were days when the counselors strenuous efforts to impart ‘wisdom’ left him bored and annoyed.

Once, he was given a lump of clay and told to mold it how he saw fit. He found a comfortable tree to sit against, and quietly worked the clay into a canine shape; long in the snout, wide in the brow. The fox he sculpted still sits on his shelf.

* * *
He can be a devilish trickster. He had a running prank that he would play on me for a time: he’d hide my cell phone. It started innocuously, under pillows that smothered ring tones and vibrations, but soon escalated to higher and higher levels of deviousness. Once he hid it deep inside the slot of the VCR. Another time, exasperated, I demanded he return it and spare me the wasted time of searching. He grudgingly went to the pantry, took the jar of Peanut Butter off the shelf, and pulled out of it my cell phone. It was carefully wrapped in plastic to protect it, but still. My reaction was pretty evenly split between horror and bemused admiration. Don’t ever do that again, kid, but also don’t ever stop being so damn clever.

* * *
The gray fox is the only one of its kind that can climb a tree. I have a hard time picturing this. I’m sure that there is some video I could find on the web, some nature film accompanied by David Attenborough’s soothing voice; but really it’s something I just wish I could witness. What a singular talent for a canidae- a tiny dog that can be found in the branches of a tree! It seems a skill worthy of a trickster god.

Nature always seems to have exceptions, beings that defy the typical order of things. Outliers, underdogs, misfits; they show how survival can be dependent on learning to create oneself, to take what you have and sit quietly by a tree and mold it into something new and greater.

HeyokeTrickster

 

Find out more about Grady here: http://www.illuminousflux.com/?page_id=76

 

Last Updated On June 6, 2014

 

Canidae Vulpis and the Wilds of Parenting

 

I.

The tiny animal was prancing in broad view of everyone. Her extravagant tail gave every movement a showy elegance, an elegance that was highlighted by her copper colored coat shining in the sun. She hopped along lightly and happily somewhere between a lope and run. Traffic stopped, and all eyes were on her. She circled the building in a wide arc, crossing the parking lot. We watched her, delighted and amused. Her paws seemed to hardly touch earth. She was enjoying being herself immensely.

I felt thunderstruck. That morning I had written a story, or the start of a story, with a fox as a central character. It was a rare attempt for me, to write with no plan, to dive into a story and see what is to be found there. I am generally not skilled at improv, either in real life or on the page. What I came up with was a fable about a lost boy and a fox. The story I wrote didn’t make a lot of sense, and I didn’t think it would amount to much, and was probably not worth pursuing. And now here was a fox dancing across my path like a crazy messenger.

* * *
I want to tell you about everything that little animal represented in that moment, but I’m a little torn. Let me back up, and explain. The fox is my son. My oldest boy, who is now thirteen, and with whom I share an intense relationship. I want to tell people about him, and the life we have shared, but I also need to respect his privacy. And so I am treading carefully. But there is no question about him: he is a fox.

He is smart, and sly, and has an avid wit. He is quiet, and sneaky, sneaky sneaky. His nocturnal nature is deeply ingrained, making early morning school prep an often contentious battle of wills. His hair which he has grown very long, can best be described as russet. Or copper. Or, when the sun hits just right, flame. And when he bites, it is needle sharp, and deadly accurate.

The story I wrote is a fable about a boy lost in a spooky forest, who befriends a fox. It’s not a particularly great story, but I am going ahead with it, illustrating it with large collaged paintings and putting it up on the walls of the gallery where I have an annual show. The boy in the story is my son. The fox in the story is also my son. The only other character in the story is the forest itself, and that represents my son’s depression.

There is a lifetime’s worth of things wanting to spill out of me at this point, but I’m holding back, for the sake of his privacy. So, I’ll leave it there: he has battled depression. And as everyone who is prone to depression knows, it’s always there. You’re never just healed of it.

So, I wrote this story, and I’m working on the illustrations, and I am
a little conflicted. It is a tale that I want to tell, but my son has every right not to be fodder for his father’s lousy artistic ambitions. Neither does he need his story told on the Internet.

* * *
The fox that skipped so lightly across my path that day drew a lot of attention. Her cavorting triggered some safety worries. Animals like her behaving strangely are assumed to be sick, possibly rabid. An inversion of normal behavior is indication of illness.

But sometimes the ‘inversion’ is the normal state. I would not describe my son as being an overly happy child. While not in a state of depression currently, the exuberant happiness one assumes to be the normal state of childhood has never been his. (Or, I should say, mine.) Neither of us let our emotions run wild. People often mistake this for aloofness or suppression. For he and I, it feels natural; it is other people with their obsessions and drama, their runaway passions, that seem a little sick or crazy.

* * *
The thrill, the wild thrill of that moment when that fox came barreling up to me was a rare sensation; it was like one of those stories I hear others tell that usually leave me a little skeptical, when someone’s internal strivings are suddenly made manifest in a convenient and illustrative coincidence. Like weak screenwriting, that spells it all out for the audience. In general I shy away from projecting my story on the world, because sometimes, most times, a fox is just a fox.

And a boy need not suffer the same projections of his dad either. My son makes me proud in ways that I find hard to put into words. He recently turned thirteen, that age when we begin, at least symbolically anyway, the struggle of defining ourselves. He has been engaged in this struggle far longer than most kids his age. More and more, the way I see forward as a father is not as a lesson giver or authority figure, but simply as an example. Helping someone down the path of self creation requires you to walk ahead of them. Pride in oneself is not something that comes naturally to me, but it does seem to be essential. Just ask that radiant fox .

© Grady Kane-Horrigan

fox collage

© Camryn Richmond-Lauffer (top left, middle, and bottom) © Janie Richmond-Lauffer (top right)

Find out more about Camryn and Janie here: http://www.illuminousflux.com/?page_id=76
II.

The fox den is situated right between a parking lot, a barn, and a construction road. The kits sit on the rocks in the sun as the huge, roaring front-end loader thunders in and out of the lot endlessly. They play like happy cats, in plain view of a valet pumping gas. Mama fox, trotting so lightly she almost hovers, carries a limp possum across a horse corral, three connecting roads, a sunny lawn and to the shaded rocks, all under the gaze of several delighted and aghast witnesses. The Wildness is breathtaking and heartbreaking. The odds aren’t good; they have no wariness. They’re comfortable in the most dangerous way. And it shames us all, to see them so free, so full of delight, full of themselves, their purity and rich animal beauty. Being so adjacent to garbage, and noise, and dumb, lumbering steel monsters.

* * *
Wild. It is a word of so many meanings. To be wild is to break free from the rules; to be wild is to never have been under the rules in the first place. Wild can be crazy, or dangerous, can even be romantic. ‘Wildness’ has become a quasi spiritualism, beloved by those who seek mysticism but reject religion.

For several years my son attended a nature camp that emphasized deep wildness. It was heavily committed to giving kids a raw, mud-soaked natural experience. There were days he came home sopping wet and feeling giddy and liberated; there were days when the counselors strenuous efforts to impart ‘wisdom’ left him bored and annoyed.

Once, he was given a lump of clay and told to mold it how he saw fit. He found a comfortable tree to sit against, and quietly worked the clay into a canine shape; long in the snout, wide in the brow. The fox he sculpted still sits on his shelf.

* * *
He can be a devilish trickster. He had a running prank that he would play on me for a time: he’d hide my cell phone. It started innocuously, under pillows that smothered ring tones and vibrations, but soon escalated to higher and higher levels of deviousness. Once he hid it deep inside the slot of the VCR. Another time, exasperated, I demanded he return it and spare me the wasted time of searching. He grudgingly went to the pantry, took the jar of Peanut Butter off the shelf, and pulled out of it my cell phone. It was carefully wrapped in plastic to protect it, but still. My reaction was pretty evenly split between horror and bemused admiration. Don’t ever do that again, kid, but also don’t ever stop being so damn clever.

* * *
The gray fox is the only one of its kind that can climb a tree. I have a hard time picturing this. I’m sure that there is some video I could find on the web, some nature film accompanied by David Attenborough’s soothing voice; but really it’s something I just wish I could witness. What a singular talent for a canidae- a tiny dog that can be found in the branches of a tree! It seems a skill worthy of a trickster god.

Nature always seems to have exceptions, beings that defy the typical order of things. Outliers, underdogs, misfits; they show how survival can be dependent on learning to create oneself, to take what you have and sit quietly by a tree and mold it into something new and greater.

HeyokeTrickster

 

Find out more about Grady here: http://www.illuminousflux.com/?page_id=76

Last Updated On June 6, 2014

Canidae Vulpis and the Wilds of Parenting

I.

The tiny animal was prancing in broad view of everyone. Her extravagant tail gave every movement a showy elegance, an elegance that was highlighted by her copper colored coat shining in the sun. She hopped along lightly and happily somewhere between a lope and run. Traffic stopped, and all eyes were on her. She circled the building in a wide arc, crossing the parking lot. We watched her, delighted and amused. Her paws seemed to hardly touch earth. She was enjoying being herself immensely.

I felt thunderstruck. That morning I had written a story, or the start of a story, with a fox as a central character. It was a rare attempt for me, to write with no plan, to dive into a story and see what is to be found there. I am generally not skilled at improv, either in real life or on the page. What I came up with was a fable about a lost boy and a fox. The story I wrote didn’t make a lot of sense, and I didn’t think it would amount to much, and was probably not worth pursuing. And now here was a fox dancing across my path like a crazy messenger.

* * *
I want to tell you about everything that little animal represented in that moment, but I’m a little torn. Let me back up, and explain. The fox is my son. My oldest boy, who is now thirteen, and with whom I share an intense relationship. I want to tell people about him, and the life we have shared, but I also need to respect his privacy. And so I am treading carefully. But there is no question about him: he is a fox.

He is smart, and sly, and has an avid wit. He is quiet, and sneaky, sneaky sneaky. His nocturnal nature is deeply ingrained, making early morning school prep an often contentious battle of wills. His hair which he has grown very long, can best be described as russet. Or copper. Or, when the sun hits just right, flame. And when he bites, it is needle sharp, and deadly accurate.

The story I wrote is a fable about a boy lost in a spooky forest, who befriends a fox. It’s not a particularly great story, but I am going ahead with it, illustrating it with large collaged paintings and putting it up on the walls of the gallery where I have an annual show. The boy in the story is my son. The fox in the story is also my son. The only other character in the story is the forest itself, and that represents my son’s depression.

There is a lifetime’s worth of things wanting to spill out of me at this point, but I’m holding back, for the sake of his privacy. So, I’ll leave it there: he has battled depression. And as everyone who is prone to depression knows, it’s always there. You’re never just healed of it.

So, I wrote this story, and I’m working on the illustrations, and I am
a little conflicted. It is a tale that I want to tell, but my son has every right not to be fodder for his father’s lousy artistic ambitions. Neither does he need his story told on the Internet.

* * *
The fox that skipped so lightly across my path that day drew a lot of attention. Her cavorting triggered some safety worries. Animals like her behaving strangely are assumed to be sick, possibly rabid. An inversion of normal behavior is indication of illness.

But sometimes the ‘inversion’ is the normal state. I would not describe my son as being an overly happy child. While not in a state of depression currently, the exuberant happiness one assumes to be the normal state of childhood has never been his. (Or, I should say, mine.) Neither of us let our emotions run wild. People often mistake this for aloofness or suppression. For he and I, it feels natural; it is other people with their obsessions and drama, their runaway passions, that seem a little sick or crazy.

* * *
The thrill, the wild thrill of that moment when that fox came barreling up to me was a rare sensation; it was like one of those stories I hear others tell that usually leave me a little skeptical, when someone’s internal strivings are suddenly made manifest in a convenient and illustrative coincidence. Like weak screenwriting, that spells it all out for the audience. In general I shy away from projecting my story on the world, because sometimes, most times, a fox is just a fox.

And a boy need not suffer the same projections of his dad either. My son makes me proud in ways that I find hard to put into words. He recently turned thirteen, that age when we begin, at least symbolically anyway, the struggle of defining ourselves. He has been engaged in this struggle far longer than most kids his age. More and more, the way I see forward as a father is not as a lesson giver or authority figure, but simply as an example. Helping someone down the path of self creation requires you to walk ahead of them. Pride in oneself is not something that comes naturally to me, but it does seem to be essential. Just ask that radiant fox .

© Grady Kane-Horrigan

fox collage

© Camryn Richmond-Lauffer (top left, middle, and bottom) © Janie Richmond-Lauffer (top right)

Find out more about Camryn and Janie here: http://www.illuminousflux.com/?page_id=76
II.

The fox den is situated right between a parking lot, a barn, and a construction road. The kits sit on the rocks in the sun as the huge, roaring front-end loader thunders in and out of the lot endlessly. They play like happy cats, in plain view of a valet pumping gas. Mama fox, trotting so lightly she almost hovers, carries a limp possum across a horse corral, three connecting roads, a sunny lawn and to the shaded rocks, all under the gaze of several delighted and aghast witnesses. The Wildness is breathtaking and heartbreaking. The odds aren’t good; they have no wariness. They’re comfortable in the most dangerous way. And it shames us all, to see them so free, so full of delight, full of themselves, their purity and rich animal beauty. Being so adjacent to garbage, and noise, and dumb, lumbering steel monsters.

* * *
Wild. It is a word of so many meanings. To be wild is to break free from the rules; to be wild is to never have been under the rules in the first place. Wild can be crazy, or dangerous, can even be romantic. ‘Wildness’ has become a quasi spiritualism, beloved by those who seek mysticism but reject religion.

For several years my son attended a nature camp that emphasized deep wildness. It was heavily committed to giving kids a raw, mud-soaked natural experience. There were days he came home sopping wet and feeling giddy and liberated; there were days when the counselors strenuous efforts to impart ‘wisdom’ left him bored and annoyed.

Once, he was given a lump of clay and told to mold it how he saw fit. He found a comfortable tree to sit against, and quietly worked the clay into a canine shape; long in the snout, wide in the brow. The fox he sculpted still sits on his shelf.

* * *
He can be a devilish trickster. He had a running prank that he would play on me for a time: he’d hide my cell phone. It started innocuously, under pillows that smothered ring tones and vibrations, but soon escalated to higher and higher levels of deviousness. Once he hid it deep inside the slot of the VCR. Another time, exasperated, I demanded he return it and spare me the wasted time of searching. He grudgingly went to the pantry, took the jar of Peanut Butter off the shelf, and pulled out of it my cell phone. It was carefully wrapped in plastic to protect it, but still. My reaction was pretty evenly split between horror and bemused admiration. Don’t ever do that again, kid, but also don’t ever stop being so damn clever.

* * *
The gray fox is the only one of its kind that can climb a tree. I have a hard time picturing this. I’m sure that there is some video I could find on the web, some nature film accompanied by David Attenborough’s soothing voice; but really it’s something I just wish I could witness. What a singular talent for a canidae- a tiny dog that can be found in the branches of a tree! It seems a skill worthy of a trickster god.

Nature always seems to have exceptions, beings that defy the typical order of things. Outliers, underdogs, misfits; they show how survival can be dependent on learning to create oneself, to take what you have and sit quietly by a tree and mold it into something new and greater.

HeyokeTrickster

 

Find out more about Grady here: http://www.illuminousflux.com/?page_id=76