By Tim Peterson
I would first like to thank you for your efforts in writing an article regarding the unfortunate circumstances surrounding my family, their “challenging” neighbors, and our friends, the foxes.
To be honest, my first hand experiences with the aforementioned have been more limited, as I just moved from Texas, back (home) to Athens with my wife and son last year, just prior to COVID. While limited, I did experience a sampling of the non-sensical, vulgar, and incoherent acts of the neighbor just during brief visits over the last several years. It certainly makes for an uncomfortable neighborhood environment, despite the peaceful and beautiful surroundings that I/we were blessed with growing up on Mansfield Road.
For my comments regarding this matter, I would like to focus more on how the foxes have been therapeutic and healing, and have brought rural neighbors (that, otherwise may have never met), together.
I grew up on Mansfield Road, and in Athens, through college until I moved to Boulder, Colorado in 2005, and then a suburb of Houston, Texas from 2011 through February of 2020. From elementary through graduation from OU, to current, as friends were made and introduced to where I grew up they were all left in awe and envious of my youth’s “back yard” and the associated wildlife that were not as commonplace in a more urban environment. In my younger years, I admittedly took this for granted, until around 3rd or 4th grade when everyone wanted to come to my house to enjoy the environment.
Fast-forward 25 years or so, while I was living out of state (and missing home), my Mom was diagnosed and being treated for several ailments including Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and thyroid cancer, most of which are non-visible yet, extremely painful and challenging. Life changing. As one could imagine, my Mom experienced some challenging times, and hindered spirits. Fortunately, she found a therapeutic outlet in amateur nature and wildlife photography, which were abundant “from our front porch.” While she gained experience behind the lens, she/we was blessed with a new “subject.” A mama fox who had ousted or replaced the groundhogs that had previously called the barn, and the driveway culvert their home throughout my youth.
The pictures that followed of mama fox, and her kits were a healing outlet for my Mom, and as they were shared amongst us on social media and via email with rave reviews, my Mom’s spirits notably lifted.
As mama fox and offspring came to respect our respect for them, they clearly felt safe and continued to return year after year. As friendly neighbors would pass, they would frequently observe my Mom, capturing a fox photo from a distance, introduce themselves, and strike up a conversation regarding the natural beauty and how fortunate we are to be blessed with the “neighborhood” fox family that had taken refuge in the old barn.
As sightings and pictures were shared, new and lasting friendships amongst neighbors and others world-wide that otherwise may have never spoken, were formed and fostered. A “community” was created surrounding a shared interest in a natural, wildlife beauty that we are blessed with.
In closing, as humans, those with the means can more or less choose where they wish to live. If you wish to have walkable amenities, ease of public transportation, less lawn/property maintenance or a fear of the region’s wildlife, one might consider a more urban environment. If you wish to find solace in less traffic, a distance between friendly neighbors, nature’s beauty, and wildlife, you’d enjoy living “on the ridge”.
If, for one that certainly has “the means,” (as with my parent’s neighbor) chooses to live in a rural environment, you simply can’t disrespect or try to trap and destroy the wildlife that surrounds you, “because they sh*t or your porch”.
Furthermore, there is absolutely no justification, reason, or right to engage in offensive, abusive behavior towards your neighbors that embrace their surroundings, and the associated wildlife. We, as humans have inserted ourselves in their environment, and we must respect them, and each other. In the end, God and nature wins.
Editor’s note: Tim Peterson is the son of Sheila and Rob Peterson. A story detailing their (and other residents who reside on Mansfield Road and the surrounding area) connection to foxes that lived in a barn on their property was printed in the May 12, 2021 edition of The Athens NEWS.