Wednesday, July 9, 2008


We've had a good friend visiting for the last couple days (as well as his 11-year-old daughter, who my girls treat like a rock star). Monday night there was a wondrous rain, a slow, soaking rain, like balm out here in the high desert. All evening, then all night long. He and I were out on the front porch about 11, after the girls had gone to bed, having a beer, watching the rain come down, while he played his homemade cigar-box mandolin.

Something was floating down the middle of the street in the rain, aware of us but oblivious, and seemingly oblivious to the rain as well. Utterly silent. Bigger than a cat, more slender than a dog, big bushy tail. And there was no rhythmic gait as it walked; it was gliding, like a ghost, genuinely otherworldly.

It was a fox.

It continued down the street, crossed the intersection, sat down on its haunches briefly as it regarded us, then went on its way. We returned to our beers, music, conversation. Nothing earth-shaking about the moment, simply a small and surreal interlude, like a fragment of a dream.

Here is a picture of the mandolin he was playing. He made it himself, out of a cigar box.

Pretty cool, huh?

He sells them as well, for a cheaper price than you might think (as well as cigar-box violins and electric and acoustic cigar-box guitars). If you want one, drop me a line, I'll put you in contact with him.


Gordo said...

Very nice. Make Magazine had an article about making an electric cigar-box guitar about two years ago. Pretty neat stuff.

I haven't seen a fox that wasn't running from traffic in ages. But, they do have an almost alien grace to them, don't they?

minijonb said...

i've seen a few foxes walk around Up North. it is a little strange to see them in populated areas.

meno said...

Nice description of a moment. I could feel it.

Noel said...

I do have to say your command of detail and pacing is wonderful and always a joy to read.

With that said, I guess it's the part of me that's a city child, but I would have been both in awe and scared of the fox. I saw my first possum a while ago and was fascinated by it until it hissed at me and started to chase after me, to which I immediately thought "rabies."

And if I hadn't already bought my best friend a new training violin for her birthday (three years and 5 violins later, she's still trying to do this as a last attempt to please her parents), I'd be down for getting a cigar box violin. It seems quirky enough for her. At least the training violin was cheap since it's godawful ugly.

Clowncar said...

Yes, Gord, they pack a lot of otherworldly grace into a very small package.

Mini John. They're hungry, to be looking for food so far inside the city limits. Sad. But, of course, beautiful as well.

Thanks Meno. I tried to get down the heart of the moment without getting in the way. Never an easy thing for me.

What a thoughtful compliment, Noel. Thank you. And trusy me, you wouldn't have been scared. There was such a gentle grace to him. If anything, you'd probably feel blessed to witness such a curious thing.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

That's SO COOL!!!!!

The whole thing, the fox, the rain, the friends and family and especially the mandolin.

I want one!
Does it come with cigars and a beginners manual? I'm not sure how to snip the tip and light it just right and like that.

I am of the opinion that it would be instrumental to smoke whilst strumming, you see.
They go hand in hand, obviously.


Scarlett & Viaggiatore