Before houses conquered the expanses of great, wild nothing in the grassy "neighborhood" of my childhood, I would go walking, with a stick in hand and with no more pressing goal than seeing some creek, some valley, some literal hole-in-the-ground that had previous escaped my detection and — to my small brain — the detection of any other human who could truly appreciate it. Once, on one of these journeys, I came across an unusual bush I had never seen before. No taller than a soccer ball, flat-bottomed and round-topped, this bush stood out against the dry grass by virtue of being a reddish-gold. (Outside of autumn and poison oak, red does not figure largely into the palette of rural, central California.) The bush had spiky, thin leaves one might associate with an evergreen or some hearty cactus, yet it still looked soft. A second bush was growing a few yards away, I soon saw. Curious and intent on being the first to observe these plant specimens — which had seemingly sprouted up overnight and which I'm sure I intended to dub "Drewshrubs" — I approached them. A few steps away from the first, however, a canine head shot from around one side and bushy tail from around the other. Within moments, a similar head and tail appeared around the second bush. Before I could process what I was watching, both bushes had leapt onto their paws and darted into the distance.
Since that day, I've never stepped closer to wild foxes. Whenever I see one trotting about now, I think "There goes another one of those bushes."
Monday morning, when I awoke before dawn to make the drive from Hollister in time for work in Santa Barbara, I groggily walked around the new additions that have so radically changed the house I grew up in. These include a new window that faces out onto the side lawn. Looking through this window and onto this part of the yard newly visible from inside the house, I saw what initially looked like three brown vases arranged symmetrically on the lawn. Each of the three had narrow bases, bulging midsections and odd tops that tapered thinner and thinner before forming tips at the end. In my sleepy state, I had to consider what I was looking at for a moment before I realized that the vases were actually three hares enjoying a good, motionless sit at the start of their day. They looked a lot less like inanimate objects when the dog rounded the corner and chased the three in different directions. Vases, it turns out, can move pretty quickly when properly motivated.
As I pulled out of my parents' driveway and down the hill, I saw one brown hare sitting on the other side of the fence — again motionless and again, I'd guess, looking like a jar if a half-awake person not wearing glasses saw it from behind.
I'd like to think vase mimicry is a common hare hobby. Apparently mistaking woodland creatures for inanimate objects is my hobby.
Portions of Foxes are headlining a show downtown on Saturday, with The Lagomorphic Vases opening. I know the bands from way back and can totally get you tickets.