Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Real Hoot

I was diligently studying some documents related to my on-going farm development plans on the computer, when I was startled by the haunting, deep call of a Great Horned Owl. It sounded like it was right at the table with me, it was so close.

I lept up, slid across the vinyl kitchen floor to the entryway in my sock feet, and quickly donned full winter gear. The temperature has dropped from 32 degrees last night to a mere 5 degrees tonight. Brrrrr! But the clouds from the drizzle and sleet and snow of the day were swept away by the vicious cold wind earlier this evening, and now it is clear and bright. The stars twinkle as they do only when it is so, so cold.

I went out the back door, and the owl called again from the direction of our wonderful huge silver maple. I answered, feeling very rusty indeed at this foreign language. It has been a long time since I've had a conversation with an owl of any species, and Great Horned is not my best dialect. I'm better (in my human opinion) at Screech (a haunting, breathy whistle descending in shivers down your spine) and Barred ("Who cooks for you? Who cooks for YOU all?").

But it answered back after a few minutes, anyway. I haven't lost this voice, entirely.

We carried on for awhile. When it didn't seem to be inclined to move towards me, I walked further out towards the barn, thinking more distance might lure it to fly closer. But it remained in its invisible spot in the branches of the magnificent tree. Eventually I decided to walk towards the voice, and try to see exactly where it was perched.

We kept exchanging phrases, and I slowly moved towards the sound. No sneaking up on anything: The frozen snow crunched loudly under my feet. It took awhile, but I finally found it: straight above my head on the highest branch, as I stood under the spreading branches.

After a few more hoots, it flew off to the trees on the west side of the garden. I searched out the deaf dog, and we went back into the house, deeply satisfied.

If you have had this experience, my words will conjure up the very smell of the cold air and the glittering stars. If you haven't, and pictures would help, go to the children's section at the library and find the book Owl Moon, and you will have a better idea of the experience.

It is something a camera cannot capture.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great experience. I loved the book Owl Moom