Hoping to commune with surrounding wildlife at dusk one evening, I had seen the most magical flight of a huge bird floating downward from the utility pole near the barn. He was only fifteen feet away, shadowy and oh so silent in his flight
In a split second, he was off toward the pond – then off into the darkness of the tall pine trees.
On a different evening I heard several high-pitched screeches – sounded like they came from the tall pines near the pond. Someone was speaking to me from the wildlifethe darkness.
I stood on the deck sort of fooling around and trying to imitate the sound of it. My husband thought I was losing my mind, but I was just having fun. After a few rounds of stretching my vocal chords to the max, an answer came from out of the dark and starry night.
I replied again with more enthusiasm, but now with a scratchy throat. I was getting so many replies; I thought perhaps I had joined a community conversation. I reached the end of my vocal performance and had to say goodnight to this wildlife community.
Whoever this wildlife friend in the darkness was, he liked me right away. By the next morning at dusk, I went out on the porch to do the morning coffee ritual and heard that friendly screech-like greeting.
In order not to wake up the world, and to also save on my overextended vocal chords, I tried a softer reply. He picked up on it, and we communicated for several moments. It was awesome how he could hear me as soon as I set foot on the porch.
This went on for weeks on end. Whenever I went outside during dimly lit hours, he was there sensing my presence from who knows where. I hadn’t actually seen my wildlife friend yet, and the recipient at the other end of the vocal exchanges remained a mystery.
As more time passed, I began feeling a true affection for this amiable talker- companion of mine. My husband, Peter, had also developed an interest in the puzzling caller of the darkness. He remarked that my friend had gotten my communication confused with a mating call.
Nonetheless, I was happy to have this invisible friend as part of the wildlife community. I kept wishing so that I could see who it was though.
Finally one morning I was near the kitchen sink pouring coffee – looking out the window. Just a few feet away, the utility light near the well pit provided a small circle of visibility in the darkness. Something was moving out there.
In the blink of an eye – I saw a creature that looked like a monkey at first. Pretty soon I was able to focus and figure out that this mysterious visitor must have been my bird friend. Without seeing his wingspan, it really took me a long while to figure out that he was an owl.
So there he was, looking at me through the window, and I was looking at him. The longer he stood there in the spotlight, the more excited I got. I didn’t know what to do, not imagining that he could probably actually hear the blood passing through my veins. Some time passed by with me just looking at him and vice versa.
I didn’t want him to go away too quickly after all this time of invisible talking to the surrounding wildlife. I thought to try body language at this close range. I started tilting my head from side to side. With an eager response, he quickly started moving his head – in a rotation of almost 360 degrees!
In an early morning stupor, I still hadn’t figured out that this guy was one heck of a really big owl. Had I been standing next to him, his head would have reached about the middle of my thigh.
Months went by, and we talked all summer long. Sometimes other bird voices chimed in. I felt welcomed into a whole different wildlife world that went on during the night.
Later in the season, something happened to my owl friend. He was found lying underneath the willow tree on the north end of the pond. I was so saddened by the loss.
After a closer look, I learned that he was a Great Horned Owl with a fifty-four inch wingspan. A view of his beautiful feather pattern, and his powerful talons took my breath away.
As I looked at his lifeless body, I could understand why there is so much mythology surrounding the owl as a spiritual creature – a connection to other worldly places – places where I could only hope he would be talking to me from beyond. Communing with wildlife can really hurt at moments like this.