Sunday, February 28, 2016

OWL SONG


 
 
The owls are doing their spring routine, singing (if you want to call it that) since January. I know this because there is a decaying silver maple near my bedroom window, and because I am a light sleeper. These are not the small shivery-voiced owls, but the magnificent Great Horned, who has a deep voice. This vocalization always becomes a duet after a few minutes, because invariably another owl shows up, parks (himself? herself?) in a nearby tree and begin a call and response. A-Whoo-Whoo-Whoo! A-Whoo-Whoo-Whoo! Sometimes it goes on for thirty minutes, but I never get tired of it.
Remember those marvelous Farside cartoons, created by a wildlife biologist? I acknowledge that he is the author of these quips, but as I lie there in the moonlit semi-darkness imagining their conversation, it becomes either something along the line of “Hey Baby! Hey Baby!” if they are male and female--or, if male, it's doubtless the classic turf war of taunts and insults:  “You and what army?” 

I love lying there, hearing, even in surroundings mostly cleansed of original flora and fauna, that something of the old natural world survives. More than that, it's still ongoing, and letting me in on the ancient game of love and war as it begins again. After a little, though, as the song continues, I also worry. If any cats are out, I have to get up, navigate the staircase while half asleep and open the door. Usually, whatever feline is out has been prudently hiding on the porch and doesn't waste time getting inside. Bubo Virginianus isn’t nick-named the “winged tiger” for nothing.
 
 

 Also, in the same line, this area is in a migration zone. At certain times of year, we have lots of different birds passaging. Right now, it’s the Snow Geese. If you are lucky enough to see a massed gathering, it’s  a wonder you almost have to see-- and hear--to believe. For a little, out in the spring mud of the fields, there are thousands upon thousands of them. When they fly, wings glancing white against the cold blue of a February high, they, like all geese, call out to one another. Unlike Canada geese, which we have all year, the snow geese have sweet whispery voices, like ghosts slipping overhead through the ragged clouds. It's a sight which lets you know, standing there in that thin sun, that yes, spring is really on the way.
  
 

Nature reminds us of her presence, assuring us that, more as less as the groundhog predicted, winter will soon be just a memory.




 
 
In town, a lawn full of crocus is in bloom, one that was planted by some long-ago owner. Even the tulips and daffodils are giving it the old team try, poking out their green heads. All these “Simple Gifts” from the planet we are lucky enough to live upon fills me with happiness.
 
 
 
 

~~Juliet Waldron




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