Think back to when you were a kid. Remember how much bigger things seemed to be? They’ve shrunk since those days, haven’t they? Well, no, they really haven’t. We’ve just gotten bigger ourselves so in perspective, other things seem to have gotten smaller. (Why doesn’t it work that way with our tummies and rear ends? Ah, one of life’s great mysteries….!!!!)
When we lived on the Iowa farm and I was a small boy, every now and then something would get into the chicken coop and start killing chickens. Sometimes it was a weasel, and that was bad enough. Other times, though, it was a fox. And the foxes terrified me because could just picture them staring at a young farm boy (like me!), licking their chops and thinking to themselves (“I’m gonna eat for a long time off that kid!”), and then coming to take me (poor, little, ol’ innocent me!!!!) into their dump truck sized jaws and carry me away to their den on some forsaken corner of the farm where they’d tear me to shreds and eat me for dinner, breakfast, lunch, and more dinner, until not a single tooth or piece or hair was left to even attest to my short existence upon this earth.
I look back at foxes now and laugh at the concept. Foxes are far more afraid of me than I am of them. In fact, the only foxes I’d be afraid of now are ones that might be foaming at the mouth due to their rabies!
I was on a walk recently near a freshly harvested field. I had taken my camera with me that morning because I wanted to shoot a ruined cement block structure that had some graffiti painted on it. After finishing that project, I headed back towards home when I saw a fox near the top of the levee road I was walking upon. Before I could get my camera set up, it was gone back into the brush. I thought I’d missed my chance, so I kept walking. Amazingly, about 100 yards ahead of me, I spotted the first fox’s mate staring at me from the left hand side of the levee road. I stopped in my tracks, set up the camera for what I thought I’d need to get pictures of the speedy fox, and then resumed walking. As I got closer, the fox went down the side of the levee road and into the empty field, trotting parallel to me, every so often casting a glance my way, and no doubt thinking: “That guy could eat for a long time off of me! I’d better run for my life!!!!” I managed to get in a few shots, including the one for today. I rather liked the puffs of dirt that followed the fox as it ran through the dry field.
OK, kiddies…here’s the point of today’s story: you are bigger than foxes. They won’t eat you. You shouldn’t eat them. And never trust a fox named Foxy Loxy!
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: On this day in 1877, the U.S. Army held a West Point funeral with full military honors for Lieutenant-Colonel George Armstrong Custer. Killed the previous year in Montana by Sioux and Cheyenne Indians at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Custer’s body had been returned to the East for burial on the grounds of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, where Custer had graduated in 1861-at the bottom of his class.
Even before the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Custer had won national fame as a bold – and some said foolhardy – Civil War commander who eventually became the youngest major general in the U.S. Army. A handsome man, famous for his long blond hair (though he cut it short while in the field), Custer, even after the Civil War, continued to attract the attention of newspapers and the nation as a lieutenant colonel in the 7th Cavalry, a unit created to fight in the western Indian wars. Reports that Custer treated deserters of the 7th with unnecessary cruelty and overworked his soldiers led to a court-martial and conviction in 1867. But Custer redeemed himself, at least in the eyes of some, with his subsequent attack on a winter camp of Cheyenne in on the Washita River. Others, though, faulted Custer for attacking a peaceful band of Cheyenne and leaving behind some of his men when he withdrew from the battle under cover of night.
Though Custer was controversial in his day, his spectacular death at the Little Big Horn transformed him into a beloved martyr in the eyes of many Americans, especially those who were calling for wholesale war against the Indians. Some newspapers began to refer to Custer as the “American Murat,” a reference to a famous martyr of the French Revolution, and they called for decisive retaliation against the “treacherous Indians” who had murdered the golden-haired general. Others refused to believe that Custer’s own tactical mistakes could alone explain the disaster at Little Big Horn, and they instead sought to place the blame on the shoulders of other commanders who had been at the battle. (Tellingly, no one suggested that clever tactics and leadership by the Indians might have been the cause for Custer’s defeat.) Custer’s widow, Elizabeth, also worked to transform her husband into a legend by writing several highlighting his career. Hundreds of other books and movies, many of them more fiction than history, helped cement the image of Custer as the great fallen leader of the Indian wars in many American minds.
Custer’s status as a national hero and martyr only began to be seriously questioned in the 1960s, and since then he has often been portrayed as a vain and glory-seeking man whose own ineptitude was all the explanation needed for the massacre at Little Big Horn. The truth about George Custer is probably somewhere in between these two extremes.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain. Personally, I find that interesting because my eyes are often bigger than my stomach!!!!