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Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship

Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship

Ooooh, this one. Every single person I’ve recommended this to has made it a point to circle back and tell me … well sometimes they are speechless -- that’s how great it is. One of the many many many reasons I love this book is that if it weren’t IN A BOOK you’d never never get Catherine Raven’s story. How lucky then, we clever readers are to hold it in our hands. As she describes it: "A long time ago, I had arrived at the prudent and logical conclusion that when your own parents don't want you, no one else will. So I had been living a solitary life." And later adds: "I might have a week without seeing another person, but contact with a slug was all I needed to keep from feeling alone."

And yet this introverted, even damaged woman truly has changed the way I think of the outdoors. Not to mention what quiet people might be thinking. Raven fled an abusive home at age 15, entering college at 16. Following her passion for nature, she moved to the mountains of Montana, where she worked as a park ranger before eventually learning her doctorate in biology, urged forward by co-workers in rather an Eleanor Oliphant fashion. Lovely. She then built a small cottage in a valley and began leading a solitary life, working for the National Park Service and teaching classes online and in the field. According to the author she never felt lonely, but she did long to fit in somewhere. One day, she noticed that a fox would show up outside her cottage at the same time each day, 4:15pm. But wait - scientists aren’t allowed to humanize wild animals; and yet, there was something special about this fox, and the two soon developed a bond. At first, Raven felt the need to defend their relationship to her colleagues and students, fielding their frequent and targeted sciencey questions. She also continually pondered relocation to a city where she could obtain a good-paying academic job with health insurance. But the more time she and the fox spent with each other, the more the author learned about herself and was able to let go of many of the conventional ideas that had been ingrained in her mind by society. Here’s my favorite: She also includes relevant references from literature that have inspired her views (she reads passages out loud to the fox): who KNEW the wide impact of the personal story of WWI AND WWII ace pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupery and his philosophical Little Prince (and oh my gosh, Melville’s Moby Dick) in the way she does? Truly, Raven has changed my life. Talk to me later about how. - Sandy


"The book everyone will be talking about ... full of tenderness and understanding." - The New York Times

An "extraordinary" (Oprah Daily) memoir about the friendship between a solitary woman and a wild fox.

When Catherine Raven finished her PhD in biology, she built herself a tiny cottage on an isolated plot of land in Montana. She was as emotionally isolated as she was physically, but she viewed the house as a way station, a temporary rest stop where she could gather her nerves and fill out applications for what she hoped would be a real job that would help her fit into society. In the meantime, she taught remotely and led field classes in nearby Yellowstone National Park.

Then one day she realized that a mangy-looking fox was showing up on her property every afternoon at 4:15 p.m. She had never had a regular visitor before. How do you even talk to a fox? She brought out her camping chair, sat as close to him as she dared, and began reading to him from The Little Prince. Her scientific training had taught her not to anthropomorphize animals, yet as she grew to know him, his personality revealed itself and they became friends.

From the fox, Catherine learned the single most important thing about loneliness: we are never alone when we are connected to the natural world. Friends, however, cannot save each other from the uncontained forces of nature.

Fox and I is a poignant and remarkable tale of friendship, growth, and coping with inevitable loss--and of how that loss can be transformed into meaning. It is both a timely tale of solitude and belonging as well as a timeless story of one woman whose immersion in the natural world will change the way we view our surroundings--each tree, weed, flower, stone, or fox.

Publication Date: 
July 6, 2021