During our summer road trip, punctuated by a five night stay in Algonquin Provincial Park, we serendipitously encountered a female fox ushering a fat chipmunk meal to her likely den of pups. Walking along the ditch of the one lane highway that traversed the park, I imagined the backstory that led to this predatory encounter.
The campsite and home for our five day stay was rich with chipmunks. There were times when it felt as if we were under siege. I, with a bag of shelled peanuts, would sit in the midday sun cracking shells, eating nuts and shooing rodents from my protein-rich morsels. The dogs, enamored by the little mammals, would chase them about only to be foiled by the tethers that restricted a final lunge. The peanuts, the product of photosynthesis, store molecules, rich with long chains of carbon, whose assembly from atmospheric gasses was fueled by the sun. On occasion a chipmunk would recover a fumbled nut, and dash away to gnaw on the morsel of fat and protein. Combined with the seeds of nearby plants, the army of chipmunks expands as they become the physical reservoir for the sun’s energy.
So, when we encountered our fox along the Highway 60 corridor, I imagined that a chipmunk took one risk too many. Having seen my dogs restricted by their ropes, chipmunk logic might dictate that this canine vixen might be kept at arm’s length as well. Sadly, the pawn of the chipmunk army now lies limp between the mandibles of a mouth that will feed the next link in a food chain. The transfer of energy continues as the sun becomes nut, nut becomes chipmunk and chipmunk becomes fox.
On the evening of our fifth day in this boreal forest, we saw a flock of ravens circling about. Highway 60 was quiet as we traversed the park in search of moose. The Jeep sped along and the ravens drew near. We could barely see a shadowy form pulling at some flesh along the shoulder of the road. Lying limp and lifeless, the roadkill stores energy that will feed the scavengers that lurk about. A beak tugged at the red and brown mass of hair. The flow of energy never stops, as the fox who, built from the sun, will soon be fuel for making raven.
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