Eureka Springs Independent Newspaper Column for October 10, 2013

Today, after the rain had stopped and the sun had brightened the blue, clearing sky, a Barred Owl called out from the edge of the woods. After what seemed like too long a time, another owl answered and then far down the hollow a third responded. Isn’t that an omen, an owl calling during the day?

In the third grade, I played the male lead opposite Wendy the Witch in the Halloween play. What was odd about the whole deal was that I was even cast as Mr. Owl. I was new to the school and was so quiet that I was known as a barely functional mute. But I still remember my grand entrance with the construction paper feathers taped to my brown long-sleeved shirt, trying to project “T’wit, t’woo, I’m here to help you!” to the back row of the little auditorium. I’ve identified with owls ever since.

I was pleased when we moved into the hollow and would hear the eerie call of the little Screech Owl or the occasional deep hoot of a Great Horned Owl. Once I saw a white-faced Barn Owl in the barn, of all places.

But it is all Barred Owls these days. Barred Owls are pretty big, their wingspans nearly as wide as the windshield on the vehicle I drive. I know this because they sometimes swoop down toward the road as I drive through the woods into the hollow, and then pull up just before they hit the windshield. In the moment that we are face to face with only safety glass between us, the owl looks huge.

A year or two ago, owlets were raised and they sure could kick up a cacophony trying to learn how to do the “hoohoo-hoohoo, hoohoo-hoohooaw!” of their parents. They did this every night in the tall trees behind the chicken house, making the hens and Mr. Crowe very nervous. A group of owls is called a parliament, so we have a parliament of Barred Owls in the hollow.

Some say an owl hooting during the day is a portent of death and doom. I don’t mind.

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