Monday, March 05, 2007

Journey By Owl Light

The day was tenebrous, still and grey, and the bird feeders on the Two Hundred Acre Wood were all empty. The deep soft snow was well over my knees, and it muffled the sounds engendered by a laborious journey into the woods on snowshoes, dragging a toboggan chock full of grain, apples, suet and sunflower seed.

Now and again, one is granted a spontaneous and serendipity gift in the woods, and I have learned — the hard way of course — not to seek such gifts actively, but to cultivate a slow patience, to wait and see what the day holds in store — there is always a little something on offer on these potterings if one is thoughtful, patient and observant. Wild gifts are often so small and subdued that they are almost insignificant in the general scheme of things: an artfully curved branch bending under the weight of snow or icicles, a single delicate faded winter leaf caught in a tree somewhere, windblown milkweed pods, variegated lichens blanketing the rocks which poke their crowns out of the deep drifts of white here and there.

In the words of Ursula Kroeber leGuin, I am a slow unlearner, but how I love my unteachers in this quiet northern life.

Yesterday's surprise gift was a tiny Saw Whet Owl who perched in the crook of a tree along the snow drowned trail and watched with great golden eyes as I tugged my burden (a much needed bounty for the deer and birds however) by slow inches into the woods. This is the time of "the sugar bird" as this fierce wee predator is known in the Lanark Highlands — his springtime courting songs are heard just as the maple syrup season is beginning, and his presence is a sure sign that springtime is on its way, even though other markers of the changing season have yet to make an appearance in the woods and fields.


Suzie Ridler said...

Absolutely stunning, that is quite the gift just for you!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you got this incredible photo! Just as good as National Geographic! The owl is one of my companion cards in SoulCollage. What are yours? I like the concept of unlearning and those who teach us to unlearn.

Lynda (Granny K) said...

The owl picture is beautiful. I have snowshoed once and would love to do it again, it was a magical experience.

Rowan said...

The owl is beautiful, they are one of my favourite birds. I love the name 'sugar owl' for the Saw Whet Owl. You must have many friends in the Highlands who are grateful for your constant journeys to bring them food in such harsh weather. Thus you are rewarded with all these little gems that others never see or hear.

Endment said...

What a wonderful gift!!!

Unknown said...

Hi kerrdelune,

This is a rare and beautiful photo! I've never seen a real owl, although I've heard one in our woods. I don't know the least thing about their lives.

I know Ursula K. LeGuin, but I can't place her notion of "unlearning." She always makes me think more deeply.

Surely you are right about being patient and observant. Nature is a wonderful teacher, but only if you can be a wonderful student. Modern media teaches us to be impatient and unobservant.

Anonymous said...

I am in love with this little owl.