One thing I love about living in Britain is that we have a fox that lives in our garden in the winter. The first time I saw him was early December our first year here (2010). It snowed the day after Thanksgiving and didn't stop until the new year. I remember one night sitting at the window sill after Seth's dream feed around 11:30 pm; Taylor was already asleep and I knew I should head to bed, but the snow had started falling again and this Texas girl was riveted.
The garden was pure white from the steady snow fall we had gotten before and the new snow falling with the black night sky in the background was breathtaking. It was one of those perfect moments where I didn't feel like I needed to grab my camera, or wake Taylor up to enjoy it with me, but I just reveled in it with the Lord. And to top it off, He had Mr. Fox run through the white snow. I felt like God was painting a children's story book right there in real life just for me. It was so beautiful and ever after that encounter I was endeared to that little fox. Every night up until we left Edinburgh to head back to Texas for Christmas, I looked for Mr. Fox and spotted him from time to time.
The next winter it was much milder. We only experienced snowfall two different times, and it never stuck, but Mr. Fox was still around. I didn't see him as often now that Seth was down for bed for good by 7, but when I happened to see him, it made me love Edinburgh and our sweet flat and garden so much more.
Winter passed and Avery was born the next spring. We experienced a gloriously hot summer in Houston, and when we returned, enjoyed meeting the new families that had moved into our flat complex before the school year started. The new girls, like all of us when we were new, had lots of questions about the city and about living in our housing unit. Mr. Fox of course was mentioned as a highlight of living where we do, but the mice? Not so much. Their eyes lit up at the idea of the neighborhood fox, and I got excited about seeing him again this winter. Someone who has lived here longer than us even knew the story of how Mr. Fox came to reside in our community garden. It was a sad tale of losing his mate and coming to look for her here each winter. (That may not actually be the story but that is how I remember it - don't burst my bubble, mkay?)
September went by and October came and I had forgotten about Mr. Fox until last Saturday night. (I'm pretty sure I wrote this in early November and am just now posting it (in case you were wondering).)
Taylor was working after we got the kids down, and I was feeling magnanimous and offered to take the trash out. You may not realize this, but y'all. That is a big deal. I was brought up to think the trash was a man's chore. Taylor was not brought up this way. It's not usually a point of contention in our marriage because he just takes care of it, but this particular night he had a lot to do, and I didn't...so I offered. I needed to go outside to our laundry room to pick up our laundry anyway, so of course I could do it.
I had forgotten about the one other time I had taken out the trash since we lived here. I would soon remember why I had only done it one other time in two years. And this time gave me a second reason to never offer again.
So I throw on my wellies even though it wasn't raining because they were by the front door. I grab my keys and start heading downstairs. Head back up the stairs because I had forgot to bring the trash - story of my forgetful life. Taylor teasingly reminds me to take the laundry room keys, and I halfway tease him to send out a search party if I don't come back in ten minutes. I know, I'm neurotic.
I head back down making a game plan in my head. "Take trash first so you don't have to take the trash into the laundry room or the laundry to the trash bins." But even though I processed this steps before I reach the ground floor of our stairwell, autopilot takes over, and I head out the back door towards the laundry room instead of the front door towards the trash bins.
I realize this as I awkwardly try to open the laundry room door whilst juggling the two full, heavy trash bags (which are made of ridiculously thin plastic and tear easily. This is not a minor detail.). I recall my previous logic and look around to see if anybody had left their stairwell door open so I can take a shortcut to the trash bins instead of having to walk out through our building's main entrance which also happens to be outside and not really on the way to the trash bins.
The stairwell doors were all (not surprisingly) closed at 9pm at night.
So I heave my trash bags up the stairs and out the main entrance of our complex (remember this is all outside). This leads me to a narrow pathway between the main road and steep stairs back down to the sidewalk that lead to where the trash bins are. At this point I am kind of on edge because it's getting late, it's really dark, and let's be serious I am a total wuss. All of a sudden something flashes by on the sidewalk at the bottom of the stairs (you know, where I am about to walk), scaring me half to death because I startle easily. I'm now feeling sympathy for Mrs. Bennet because "oh my nerves!" and then it registers that the thing that just zoomed by me was not a neighbourhood kid on a scooter, but you guessed it.
I quickly realize that I am only endeared to him when he is outside my window, not when I am outside by myself wrestling oversized trash bags that are threatening to split open at any time.
I must have yelped when he ran by because he stops in his tracks and looks curiously back at me. And he is way too close for comfort. The theme song to Peter and the Wolf starts playing in my head. I have half a mind to heave the trash bags back up the stairs to our flat and call it a night, but realize I'd basically have to walk right by the trash bins anyway to get back to my flat, and I'm not that lazy.
I throw caution to the wind and bang the trash bags on the ground hoping to scare him away without causing my bags to tear and leave rubbish all over the path. Thankfully this works on both accounts, and he promptly runs out of sight in the opposite direction from me. I take this opportunity to book it to the trash bins looking behind me and banging the trash bags on the ground intermittently (think The Parent Trap). I'm sure some of my neighbors got a kick out of this ridiculous sight.
I finally make it to the trash bins, and Mr. Fox hasn't followed me as far as I can tell - he's clearly scared out of his mind by the crazy girl awkwardly trying to run in wellies while banging trash bags on the pavement. It's a total miracle they didn't tear in the process. I stand in front of the looming trash bins and quickly remember why I never take out the trash. The trash bin area has no lights and backs up to a wild and overgrown part of our complex and well...
I am short.
The trash cans are tall.
I am weak.
The trash bins have ridiculously heavy lids.
The trash bags are really heavy.
Did I mention I am short and weak?
And to add insult to injury I am most likely being stalked by a fox. And let's not forget I'm a germophobe to boot.
So picture me blindly trying to swing these heavy trash bags high enough to get them up and into the bins while also trying to watch my back for impending fox pounce. This is a very inefficient way of getting big heavy trash bags into tall unlit trash bins. I finally get the first bag high enough and realize I forgot to open the lid as it comes crashing to a halt on the top of the bin. Brilliant.
I contemplate leaving it there, but realize the fox and other wild animals would probably have a heyday ripping it open and eating the contents making a huge mess in our car park. Not to mention revealing whatever recyclable items we accidentally threw away. Oh the shame!
Grimacing as I think about all of the germs I am getting on my hands, I try to swing open the lid while still holding onto the other trash bag with my other hand. Did I mention I wasn't good at physics?
The lid finally bangs open undoubtedly waking all neighborhood children within a half mile radius. Then it takes me about four failed attempts to swing the trash bag up high enough to get it in the bin all the while frantically looking over my shoulder for the fox to reappear. He doesn't. I get the other bag into the bin about as quickly as the first, slam the lid shut and high tail it back to my front door. It dawns on me that I've not picked up my laundry, but that thought is dismissed immediately and I run up my stairs. I walk in the door and Taylor jokes, "What happened to you? I was about to send out a search party!"
"Oh nothing. I just remembered why I never take out the trash."