|Huntsmen and Hounds Returning Home in the Snow (1900) George Wright|
The fox killed all of our neighbour's hens, taking only the one bird back with it. Urban foxes must be utterly delighted by the spread of urban chicken keeping and they have no mercy. They kill for fun as well as food, they have no control as soon as they have some prey. However angry I was about the threat to my little chucks, it is entirely due to that horrible sound of an animal in terror and pain that I remain staunchly anti-hunting. If I had found that fox in my chicken run, I would have fought it without hesitation, but people don't need to be doing that for fun. Take up stamp collecting instead.
Back to the image. I am torn as to how I feel about it. Part of the scene stirs enormous nostalgia in me because such pictures graced the walls and tablemats of countless great-aunts, grandparents and elderly relatives as I grew up. Much like the stagecoach, it feels very much like a scene of the past. I often find that awful practices in the past tend to lose their impact somehow. Maybe we forgive our ancestors their 'follies' as we feel they didn't know better, but I am reluctant to think of our past-selves as idiots or children. It is true that things had a different resonance. With a suitable detachment from the original purpose things lose their vital impact, but also should be recognised as unacceptable in modern society.
The red of the coats of the hunters is beautiful in the snow. I wonder if that is the reason that red is so often the colour of winter, because it has such life-affirming vibrancy. Think of the holly berries, cranberries, red cabbage and the multitude of other sparking jewels that bring a richness against the icy backdrop.
|Foxhunting Scene: The Start William Henry Buck|
Well, this has been a tricky one but I wanted to talk about it. In a way I'm sorry that the last government made foxhunting illegal as it immediately made any sensible discussion of it impossible. It became a pivotal issue in the otherwise legitimate dispute between town versus country rather than what it is - an incomprehensible, cruel excuse of a hobby best relegated to our past.