Owl Night


who-WHO, whowho, who-WHO

An owl came to perch on top of one of the cypress trees out in front of the house. I heard the sound of hooting coming from outside as I was getting out of the shower and thought “Surely not…” figuring that it must have been the sound of something else- a mourning dove, maybe, or a leftover Halloween sound effect from one of the neighbors.

But no, it was an owl.

I put on a robe and went outside to see if I could figure out where it was coming from. The hooting seemed to come at regular intervals about a minute apart. It was full dark, by now, and I wasn’t sure I was going to see much, but I figured that I might as well look anyway. If it flew away, it was likely that I wouldn’t even hear it- owls traveling on silent wings and all.

who-WHO, whowho, who-WHO

I looked up to the top of the cypress trees on the west side of the house. They were just a series of dark fingers against a slightly-less-dark sky. There *might* have been a very small blob at the very top. I couldn’t be sure. I’d seen ravens perch up there from time to time, though, and that seemed to be where the sound was coming from.

I watched. I listened.

who-WHO, whowho, who-WHO

The hooting came again. I could see a very slight movement and the light from the neighbor’s yard caught the edge of something pale, which I could only imagine was a face. Maybe a barn owl? I don’t know much about the owls of Southern California, just that I’d never seen one in the neighborhood, much less this close to home.

I stood outside in the driveway in a robe staring hooting at an owl in the top of a tree like some kind of NPC out of a Harry Potter novel. A part of me kept waiting for someone to walk up to me and ask if I had a quest for them.

The owl didn’t move the whole time I was out there except to occasionally hoot. In the dark, it’s white face seemed to glow with its own light. I imagined I could see the two bright points of its eyes shining in the darkness.

Owls are supposed to be symbols of the spirit realm and the dead- guides between worlds and portents of times of change, which seems appropriate for the day after All Saints Day and the day on which the clocks go back. I couldn’t help but feel like this was meant to mean something to me: I didn’t just happen across an owl- one came to my house and called me outside, which feels pretty personal. I feel a little bit sorry that I was not able to interpret the meaning of it all, but who knows- this might be the start to something beautiful.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on November 3, 2018.

5 Responses to “Owl Night”

  1. You are delightful and hilarious. I, too, stood outside a few recent nights, hoping to turn into some kind of Harry Potter scene with a white owl landing within reach. In my neighborhood, it’s not common to hear an owl or see a bat. But, I’ve handled a fruit bat and have heard owls, now and then. And, one owl came so close to home that I detected it within maybe fifteen yards (actual metric yards, not fifteen backyards away). But, without walking through the neighborhood to track it down, I couldn’t just spot it in a tree. Alas, I get envious when a local photographer talks about taking several owl photos annually. He gets around and finds hiding places. I’m just presently happy to befriend a few other furry critters in my area, hoping they don’t become a menace (as they bother others I know).

    Let’s hope our owls are signs of good things to come and not omens of doom. I tend to judge by the type of owl, if we could see them. I’d say white owls could be a sign of either cold weather to come or peace while those great horny owls seem more foreboding, like librarians clearing their throats when you make too much noise. Was it something we said? Are we in trouble? Better yet, pass me a map and some directions for a quest. 😀 Yea, that sounds good. Interested in saving a princess and collecting magic triangles?

    • Good to hear from you- I was just thinking about you the other day since I hadn’t heard from you in a while 🙂
      I think it was a Great Horned Owl based on the call- I couldn’t actually see much of it. But I’m glad she’s in the neighborhood- we have rats on our roof- she’s welcome to eat her fill.
      Also I’m very envious you’ve gotten to handle a fruit bat.

      • I thought maybe I had said something wrong, again, when I blurted about you coloring your hair and got no response. I worry about myself, sometimes. And, I don’t need to spoil the lives of wonderful women like you…though you creeped me out with the face-pie post.

        You can identify the owl by call? Did you look that up somehow?

        That would be an amazing owl to see…even if it scares me a bit. I tend to like owls with rounded heads, not pointy eyebrows.

        Oh, rats on the roof? I thought the Lion might eat those. 😛 hehe Ya know, rats have omens attached to them, too. Some say the sight of a rat or mouse means you won’t go hungry.

        Well, if you ever pass my way in summer, you can go bat hunting with me. I think the same bat visits annually. I’ve never seen more than one. And, it always looks the same. I first encountered one in my own bedroom. It came through the chimney/furnace vents, starved for warmth as I tend to be. I was scared then, but, now, like with spiders, I’ve grown to accept them as part of the neighborhood. The bat, most recently, was seen flying in circles under a street light, around the time the fireflies show up. It hunts mosquitoes, which makes me happier to walk at night…but still a bit nervous the bat might land on me or scare mosquitoes my way.

        So, even your rats, unless they are chewing holes in your home or going into your underwear drawer, are no biggie. Just say hi, take the food away from the house (don’t make them comfortable unless you aim to befriend them better) and hope they mind their business. Just like spiders; they only make themselves at home if you provide the conditions. My dad fusses about squirrels yet insists on having so many trees around him…did ya ever stop to think where squirrels make nests, along with the birds you like? And, guess what. You’re in squirrel country.

        I will gladly play with smaller fruit bats. But, some of those bigger (vampire) bats I see at the zoo would still be a challenge to touch. I’d rather have the owl or a hawk. 🙂

      • We have bats in the neighborhood too but they’re small and fleet so I’ve only seen them at a distance. But I like bats.
        I just googled owl calls and listened until I heard one that sounded familiar

      • Fleet? I’m gonna sound like a stereotypical foreigner. Eeeeh, what is fleet? Quick?

        I like bats, too, though I prefer the softer, fuzzier ones to those that look like horror movie monsters and could freak you out when they screech and bare fangs. The small fruit bat I handled–which scared my sister’s family recently–is so cute and has such small teeth, it’s like a baby squirrel and nothing to fear other than, as I’ve heard, you’re not supposed to touch the fur without cleaning it or wearing protection. On that note, I donned work gloves to handle the bat and used paper towel to transfer it outside. I was a lil paranoid about “feces parasites” and the like. Even though I would have liked to cuddle with the thing, I knew, until I groomed it like a pet dog, there was a chance I’d “catch” something. So, I was cautious…but amused. 🙂

        AH, so you did look into the calls. I wish I was a bit quicker with referencing things like that…though it’s kinda hard to do in the dark; and I don’t want to run inside and outside to compare. I doubt I’d figure out the type from the hoot, though. Unless, I was comparing a screech owl to a horned owl. That’s like comparing a mourning dove to a crow. 🙂

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