This much must be perfectly understood. We do not own a pet, and we do not live in the country ... For the second weekend in a row, we have been awakened in the night with the sound of an adult red fox loudly barking in front of our house -- i.e., in the little cul-de-sac of our townhouse group in a suburban neighborhood in Sterling, Virginia. "Barking" is a mild way of describing the sound, for a red fox's barking is more scream than bark. (The link leads to someone's recording of a fox barking.) Actually, I was already awake as I could not sleep; Karen was awakened by the sound. When I, already dressed, heard the sound, I went out the front door and saw the fox in the street right in front of our townhouse. We looked at each other as the fox barked a few more times. Then it trotted away past the other townhouses; I followed it a ways in hopes of seeing and hearing it again. I did hear it bark again, but I did not see it because it had slipped into the shadows of the pre-dawn hour. So I returned home and went inside. A few minutes later I heard another strange sound out front, so I opened the door again. I am happy to report that we have a screen door, for right on the front step, pushing up against the screen, was a good-sized cat, loudly mewing to be let into the house! It kept this up -- pushing against the screen and mewing -- for a number of minutes as we looked at each other from our respective sides of the door. Perhaps the cat and the fox had had some kind of wary encounter, and each was seeking avoidance. Christian hospitality would compel us to welcome the stranger, but I must confess I did not open the screen door to let this stranger-cat into our house. Mea culpa. As it is Sunday, I will remember this at confession during the early Eucharist.