Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Sometimes captured in memory is best

Last night was a night for owls.
When the weather is warm, before the humidity sets in and takes your breath away, we sleep with the bedroom door open--screening out the bugs, letting in the night sounds. It's never perfectly still, even in the very early spring. Before the peepers start their chorus, we have the sounds of the owls.
We've always known the barred owls in our ravine--heard their questioning calls and hilarious monkey chatter--but, not until last spring, did I actually see one. A visit one morning, as I was sitting at the computer, there she was on the branch just outside the window looking at me. Tears ran down my cheeks. We sat staring at eachother, neither of us moving for several minutes--then she was gone.
She and her mate stayed hidden for the remainder of the year, but their calls reminded us of their presence. Nighttime was very settling--lying in bed, owls calling softly outside.
Last fall, as I was driving to work, I passed a strange lump on the road, not far from the house. Far too big for a cat, more the size of a raccoon, but very mottled. Assuming I'd discover a strange mammal-type roadkill, I stopped and got out to check. My owl! How could she have been so careless... a car ...early that morning.
I hoped it really wasn't her. Maybe it was someone else's owl. But it had become quiet at night now. And even as the chilly winter nights kept us inside, I strained to hear what I hoped would be a sign that she was still there. Finally, in the spring, a call. But each time, only one--never an answer.
I wondered how long we'd be owl-less. The once comforting calls each night were now very disturbing. And each time I heard one, I wished, like the calling owl, for an answer.
In mid-March, I walked through our pine woods, eyes on the ground, trying to avoid the little streams of runoff from the adjacent field. I hadn't walked there in a couple of years and it surprised me how quickly the trees had grown tall and dense--the perfect spot for an owl. She had thought so, too, for, when I looked up, there she sat--a few feet in front of me, on a sturdy branch.
I don't have her picture, but I don't need one. In fact, I think that would spoil the magic for me. I can see her perfectly, every time I hear the owl call...and hear her answer.

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6 comments:

cestoady said...

There is a profound lesson in your experience with the owls --- and that is there is always hope for all of us,that we are not alone, that we all have someone to be with if we are patient. Wonderful example of how nature takes care of its own -- and in the process , helps us too.

nina said...

Yes, and sometimes what eludes us if we actively seek it, visits us if we are patient.

Dorothy said...

Nina, just found your wonderful blog via a comment by Cestoady on Mary's View.
It is wonderful. It looks like you live in Paradise!

I've bookmarked your site and I'll definitely be back.

KGMom said...

Oh, how sad--an owl becoming road kill. I hate road kill so much, and to think a lovely owl was the victim.

Susan Gets Native said...

We have estimated that 80% of the birds we get at the center have been hit by cars. We see hundreds of birds a year. That's a lot of car impacts.

Photo Buffet said...

Nina, my dad loved owls and told stories of growing up in the South, and hearing them call through the trees. He even collected owl figurines in his 70s and 80s. He would have enjoyed this post!