About the mascot
This animal is maybe obvious for those who know me in person and are aware that I am absolutely crazy for foxes, but even they might not know all the references I came up with to justify this biased choice.
From my childhood times, I used to really enjoy Esopo tales. A very classic story in any Esopo collection tells about a fox that, one day, walking through the woods, spotted some beautiful grapes in a vine. Failing to reach them, to shield its hurt pride, the fox decided to resign and tell itself that the grapes were not ripe yet.
Another folktale, by Brothers Grimm, tells about a strong wolf and a smart fox that, one day, go to a farm to steal food. Once they entered through the hole of a cellar, the wolf was amazed by the amount of food and started eating, carefree about his surroundings. The fox, on the other hand, ate with caution, always checking if someone was approaching or if its belly was still slender enough to pass through the hole again. Eventually, a man appeared and the fox was able to escape, while the wolf, too fat to leave the cellar, was whacked to death.
During my stay in Japan, foxes were about everywhere. I frequently observed them in shrines, stores, and stories. Some foxes were mischievous and playful, as they could take different forms and speak with a human voice, leading people to misunderstand. On the other hand, some were considered sacred and benevolent, such as the Inari God’s messengers for the Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine, in Kyoto. Perhaps their personalities changed considerably from a tale to another, but they were all gifted with great astuteness.
More recently, I listened to a Hungarian folktale about three princes who left their palace on separate journeys by the order of the king. The two evil elder princes sent their dogs to chase a passing fox, who turned them into stone as a punishment. However, the kind youngest prince shared his meal with the fox, who, therefore, helped him succeed through his whole adventure. In fairytales, it is common that good deeds are rewarded by forest animals. Nevertheless, the fox in this story noticed that the envious brothers meant to harm the younger lad, so it decided to accompany and protect him until the very end of the journey.
Foxes are very common in people’s imagination all over the world. Although I am ignorant about which natural behavior of the species led to this perception, most foxes' representations on the folktales, legends, and mythology refer to them as smart, sly, and fast-thinking characters. Case by case, their intentions might be good or bad, fair or spooky, but the common ground is that these animals own an intelligence above average – including linguistic intelligence. With that said, I thought this would be the perfect mascot for the website’s purpose of unifying the worlds of nature and literature.