Rain, Foxes, and the Art of Waiting

It was 6 PM and I was lying on my belly in the mud under a torrential downpour. Rain was pelting me from all angles, slipping in through the hood of my raincoat and the camo sweatshirt I’d thrown over my lens as a makeshift rain cover for extra protection.

What am I doing? I asked myself. It had been lightly drizzling when I’d first set my tripod up in the field behind our house where two red fox families had made their dens, but it had been almost two hours since then, and the rain showed no signs of stopping.

It was raining too hard for me to take out my phone, so I instead found the local time through the viewfinder of my camera. Fifteen more minutes, I told myself, and then I would go in. The minutes slipped by, and my time was almost up when the rain began to ebb. At first I thought I was simply imagining it, but sure enough the downpour stopped completely, and I glanced behind to see the sun slowly emerging from behind the clouds.

Ugh. My back was aching and my bladder was equally stressed, but I couldn’t go in now! So once more I made a bargain with myself: I’d give the foxes fifteen minutes to show themselves, or I would call it quits. Once more, the clock wound down. I had a little less than a minute left when all of a sudden, a vixen leapt through the rails of the fence encircling the field and shook the rain from her coat vigorously. My heart pounding, I managed to capture a few shots before she disappeared once more.

Nikon Z6 + FTZ Adapter + 500mm f/4 | 1/2000, f/5.6, ISO 1100

Nikon Z6 + FTZ Adapter + 500mm f/4 | 1/2000, f/5.6, ISO 1100

I held my breath, watching and waiting. My adrenaline was up now, and all desire to pack up had evaporated. Exactly eight minutes later, a little face popped out of the underbrush. It paused, scanning its surroundings, and promptly trotted into the center of the field and plopped down.

Nikon Z6 + FTZ Adapter + 500mm f/4 | 1/2000, f/5.6, ISO 1800

Nikon Z6 + FTZ Adapter + 500mm f/4 | 1/2000, f/5.6, ISO 1800

It had scarcely sat down when its siblings scampered out to join it, and before long the kits were an adorable orange tangle of tails and ears. They tussled and tumbled and hopped around, nipping at each other.

And all at once, my aching back and cramped legs and sore elbows didn’t matter anymore. Here I was, lying in the mud with rain dripping down my sleeves and neck, dirt and rocks digging into my elbows, but I was grinning like an idiot.

Nikon Z6 + FTZ Adapter + 500mm f/4 | 1/1600, f/8, ISO 5000

Nikon Z6 + FTZ Adapter + 500mm f/4 | 1/1600, f/8, ISO 5000

Nikon Z6 + FTZ Adapter + 500mm f/4 | 1/2000, f/8, ISO 5000

Nikon Z6 + FTZ Adapter + 500mm f/4 | 1/2000, f/8, ISO 5000

I tried to think of a way to end this blog post with some philosophical writing of my own, but I couldn’t think of any powerful last words. Instead, I’ll leave you with a quote, far better than anything I could’ve contrived:

My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature.
— Claude Monet
Max Nichols3 Comments