September 21, 2017

Meet Simon, The Red Fox of the Radioactive Red Forest

"Is he tame?"

I'd just gotten back from my trip to Ukraine, and I was excited to tell my friends about the red fox I'd seen in the ghost town of Pripyat.

After all the adventures I'd had, they were probably most excited to hear about this one.

But when one of them asked if the fox was tame, my only response was: "Well, it depends on what you consider 'tame.'"

Of course, Simon—a.k.a. Semyon or Семён—is a wild fox. He's no one's pet.

But he's acclimated enough to the presence of tourists and tour operators to come running when we arrive...

...and eat right out of our hands.

Of course, upon meeting Simon, I couldn't help but recall The Fox who tells The Little Prince that he cannot play because he is "not tamed."

But what would it mean to tame The Fox? "To establish ties," he says.

"To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world." 
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Given the all-too-brief amount of time we had in Pripyat, I didn't have the chance to tame Simon the fox, nor did he have the chance to tame me.

To him, I'm nothing more than a tourist who's like 100,000 other tourists. And I know that maybe there is someone out there who has tamed him—at least, in the sense meant by The Fox in The Little Prince.

But to me, there is only one Simon Fox of Pripyat, that handsome, ginger fella who doesn't care much for trail mix but has learned to love the castoffs of protein bars and sandwich makings tossed his way by those who are just passing through.

And he is magnificent.

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