A Life-changing Garden Event

I think it’s fitting that the most important event in my life happened while I was digging up my garden.

Last week my daughter and I had just finished turning over the raised beds and planting the potatoes and peas. She held up a coffee cup that had been sitting on the freshly turned soil.

“Is this yours?”

I said, “Yeah, I must have left it there yesterday.”

She held it for me to look inside.

“Somebody left you a calling card.”

She maintains she didn’t say calling card but that’s my recollection. Controversy always surrounds momentous events. I leave that debate to the historians.

I looked into the cup—three turds, two nestled together, a smaller one off to the side.

“Looks like poo.”

“It is,” she said, “But who, or what, put it there?”

A long discussion ensued concerning relative sphincter sizes of various species. We decided it was too small for a human and too big for a cat.

Maybe a small dog (I had seen a Jack Russell terrier hanging around once), but the most likely candidate was the fox who regularly hunts voles in my garden.

Of course I welcome and encourage such effective (and free) pest control. Closer inspection revealed a significant quantity of vole fur.

Confirmation. A fox pooped in my coffee cup.

Like all big events—the birth of my children, the first time I watched The Cable Guy—it took a while to sink in.

Are any of us prepared to handle such a thing? Do our parents take us aside and say, “Son, some day a fox is gonna poop in your coffee cup and…”?

No. Never.

I tried to sort out my feelings. If the poo was human, I’d be offended. If it was a dog, I’d be annoyed but I wouldn’t take it personally, although a Jack Russell might intend it as an insult.

But it was a fox, so I prefer to see it as a profound, yet wordless, greeting from one species to another.

I feel honoured to be invited into the great wild circle of life.

But there’s more. Much more.

My daughter squinted into the cup.

“It looks like something. Or someone.”


“I dunno. Jesus? Elvis? Conrad Black?”

I peered more closely.

“Jimi Hendrix?”

“Too obvious,” she said. “Besides, he didn’t have a beard. And if he did it wouldn’t look like vole fur.”

“But look at the small turd. It could be the end of his guitar.”

She scoffed.

“What? With vole fur sticking out?”

A fox pooped in my coffee cup.

So many emotions. So many questions. Too many to deal with in one short column.

Roy Ness is a writer, actor and comic who normally uses a hoe and a rifle to keep his food insecurities at bay.

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