I have had different encounters with owls in the wild. They are not frequent—I live in the burbs. The few chance occurrences are etched somewhere in the nooks and crannies of my brain. Those mental photographs wait to be taken out and talked about in one of those random conversations you have when friends get together.
One summer we were visited by three owls on our property. One sat on the corner of the house. One was perched in a tall tree on the edge of the woods. And a third was somewhere we could not identify. There is still some discussion about what kind of owls they were. A friend from the Duluth area figured they were barred owls. My son was pretty adamant they were horned owls. From the corner of our roof the one called out with a screech. Moments later the second screeched back from the woods. Then the third would screech. We were in the middle of the Minnesota Triangle where suburbanites get caught in the tempest of wonder and discussion. "Where are the binoculars??" This went on for a few evenings until it stopped.
On another occasion I was riding a bike trail north of Forest Lake. It was early morning and the morning mist still lingered in the low patches of the fields on either side of the pathway. I pedaled silently aware of my breathing and the sweat on my forehead. The sound of my bike tires rattling the timbers of a small bridge over a stream startled a hidden owl. He flew out from under the bridge just as I crossed. The wingspan of this magnificent bird must have been 5-6 feet. I stopped just to watch it fly away into the morning. Stunning.
The third siting took place somewhere up north during the winter months. I don't remember what I was doing up there; maybe going to or from some event or retreat. I was on an isolated country road with naked winter trees on either side of the road. The warm yellow light of the sun filtered through the leafless trees standing tall in the frozen ground. Then there appeared a snowy owl swooping down from the upper branches of a tree. I said, "Whoa, look at that!" to no one. I was alone. These kinds of moments should be shared with someone but no one was there.
Remember that old cartoon called Ziggy? I saw a poster of Ziggy in a college bookstore. The pudgy little guy was sitting on a green hill looking at a rainbow. The caption said, "Happiness is seeing a rainbow and knowing who to thank."
I wasn't really alone up there on that quiet road. A great drama was playing for me outside my frosted windshield. And I knew who to thank for it.
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