Stillwater, November 15, 2015
Look whooooo came to see us this morning!
Scrape woke me up to see this Great Horned Owl, and he also did the sneaky-footing through the wet grass that was required in order to get these pictures.
What a gorgeous creature (the owl, not Scrape. Well, Scrape’s gorgeous, too, but I’m talking about the owl right now.) Mr. Owl had his back to the window, and I spent a long time studying him through the binoculars. The complex barring on his feathers was incredibly beautiful. You can see how well he blends with the bark of the trees.
The best way to find owls in daytime, supposedly, is to follow the sound of crows. Crows will “mob,” or harass, birds of prey. Their caws, always raucous, will be louder and more urgent than usual as they chase the predator away from his chosen perch.
Our local Stellar’s Jays thought about mobbing this big fellow, but after a couple of tentative swoops, they retreated. Smart move, guys!
There are many superstitions related to seeing owls in daylight. One says it portends a death, but I prefer the belief that an owl seen in daytime means someone who has passed to the next world is watching over you – someone wise and protective.
If our owl came from the afterlife, he’d have to be my late father. Daddy truly was a night owl, always up late listening to his classical music or taking “The Great Courses” on his computer. I considered bringing the owl a cup of Red Rose tea and some toast, but then I realized it couldn’t be Daddy, because he’d never be up by 7:30! I inherited my dad’s night owl tendencies, and nothing less than a rare bird sighting can drag me out from under the covers that early.
Mr. Owl snoozed on his perch for quite a while, but when he realized he was being photographed in the avian equivalent of rumpled pajamas, he flew away, smooth and swift, on wide, silent wings.
I’m not superstitious, but still, the thought of my dad coming back as a stately, dignified owl warmed my heart in an unexpected way. He would have loved seeing night in our forest, swooping through the darkness on those magnificent barred wings, scanning the ground by moonlight as he searched for…
Oh, wait. Prey. That might be a problem. Prey means rabbits, doesn’t it? And frightened little mice quivering in the tall grass, hoping they survive to return to their little mouse families!
The man who read “Stuart Little” aloud to me when I was a child, and who cried – yes, cried! – years later at the movie, would never survive on a diet of mice, unless he could buy them at Wegman’s, neatly packed and unrecognizable in their cellophane wrapper. Because to my dad, mice look like this:
They have personalities as charming as their tiny sweaters, of course, so he would heed their tiny screams – and starve.
I guess I’ll look for some other superstition on the internet, but still, I have less trouble dealing with my dad’s death when I imagine him enjoying whatever the afterlife might actually look like. A scientist, he’d so enjoy discovering the answer to the unanswerable question, and exploring the ultimate unknown.
I’m open for comments of any kind. Tell me your owl stories, your afterlife stories, or stories of your father. Or tell me what animal stories you loved as a child. Like Stuart, I’m all ears!