Campus fox an inspiration

Nov 252007
Authors: Anne Marie Merline

During the Fall Break, I saw the fox that all of you have been chatting about via RamTalk.

I saw “Zorro” last Monday afternoon as I was leaving campus to pick up my son from elementary school.

My first thought was to write in to RamTalk to tell you all that he is alive and well while you were all home catching up on sleep, chatting with family and friends and eating all of your favorite foods that you have been missing for three months.

I first caught a glimpse of him in front of the Academic Village where I teach. He sidled up alongside the construction fence between Building A and the west side of Newsom.

He traversed alongside the south side of Newsom passing all of the bike racks with bikes so still you could hear the locks clinking in the breeze.

A woman on the picnic bench sat motionless while her eyes followed his bushy tail as he bobbed in and out of the bushes alongside the residence hall.

I followed him as he dashed into the stand of trees at the southeast corner of Newsom. At one point he was running directly towards the intersection of South and Meridian.

There were a few cars driving by, and I was worried that I would see the demise of our unofficial mascot.

Luckily, he switched back and headed into the circular drive that serves as a welcome mat for Newsom Hall. He ventured in toward the east entrance hugging the fa/ade closer and closer. I continued on my way heading north towards my destination.

My second thought was that the little red devil is out pretty early, likely due to the lack of humans on campus. No feet, no wheels, no motors, no nothing.

I thought that red foxes are nocturnal, but my favorite source of information, Wikipedia tells me that they are “crepuscular” — primarily active during the twilight.

I guess that three o’clock at this time of year can be considered twilight since the Christmas lights go on at five o’clock to ward of the darkness at my house.

After I picked my son up from school, I told him that I had seen “a fox that was reddish in color” on campus, and I was wondering what sort of a fox he thought it was. Ben is a budding naturalist and I always like to question him about animals whether or not I know the answer. This way he gets to flex his muscle of animal knowledge and mom gets in a conversation with her son.

The point of contention was whether or not the fox had a white tip on his tail. Not being as astute as my seven-year-old son, I told him I didn’t notice that. I did notice that the backs of his ears were black.

Ben was not impressed. He only cared about the tail. It’s all in the details, I guess.

The details here on campus were alive and well, too.

While you were home catching up on many things, the fact of that matter is that I was too.

I spent the week correcting papers at a frenetic pace because they are more than past due. I also took several cracks at writing this piece, which turned out to be a creative sort of endeavor in place of the thoughts about teaching, which is a nice change of pace.

The parking lots on campus were empty save a hand-full of cars. The bike racks stand stood still with lonely bikes. The wind whispered through the tress with birds chirping about the changing weather.

All week, I have been thinking that these things are always here, but the world is always too busy to notice what does not leave with the students.

Also on campus were administrators in jeans, instructors at their desks, and the memories of students speeding by at a frenetic pace, chatting on their cell phones and the sounds of laughter and dialog resounding on campus.

A change of pace is nice, but welcome back students. Let’s enjoy the last three weeks together, with or without the fox.

Anne Marie Merline is an instructor for the University Honors Program. Her column appears biweekly Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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