Monday, November 16, 2009

By owl-light

Last night in the Springs I was just getting ready to leave the house, putting some things away, hanging a coat in the closet, when I heard a sound I'd never heard before outside the bedroom window. Over the summer a pair of screech owls woke us up a few nights with their unearthly call -- they sound like a very distressed raccoon, some careening warble of trouble -- but nothing like this. I went outside to listen, and there were the soft notes of the call again. I did a quick web search, listening to owl calls, and found this. If you click on "Typical Male" you'll hear exactly what I heard.

A short-eared owl in our maples! I left feeling sort of aglow with the experience. I drove to the train station, opened the car door, and there it was again, another owl calling over the parking lot. Then, on my fifteen minute walk to the jitney stop, beside the fire station, another owl; on the other side of it, another. Then, by the farmer's market, the next one: Amagansett was full of owls! And they were calling to each other from tree to tree in the warm November evening.

The web page says they glide low over open fields at night, looking for prey. Right behind the trees where I heard them calling there are big open fields -- corn in the summer, and the new organic farm behind the market. I love thinking of the dark shapes of the owls, silhouetted against the stars, flying there a few feet above the earth.


melissashook said...

This is remarkable -- that you heard these sounds, wrote about the experience, that I, a stranger, read it, and then I follow your guide to an owl site. Thank you.

A Synonym for Living said...

your post made me think of the frequent childhood visits to the Pittsburgh Aviary. There was a tiny owl, alone in his enclosure, who lived in a hole. No parent or babysitter ever understood why I chose to stare at him over the flashy hornbills or the whimsical roadrunner, but I always rushed through the aviary to his spot with a sense of pilgrimage. One day, I imagined, when no one else was looking, he'd tell me some deep secret of the world.

Elisabeth said...

How wonderful to hear the owls. Have you read the book, The Ancient Solitary Reign by Martin Hocke. It's written from the perspective of the owls. It is a beautifully written and haunting book, one that makes me ashamed about my human status, but wonderful nevertheless.

It all comes back to me now as I listen to the owl's call.

You are fortunate to hear it in the real.

T. said...

Lovely. At dusk, where I live (close to Seattle), I hear owls in the Douglas firs; and in the morning before sunrise, eagles. A gift, every time.

Mim said...

I read your post again this morning and as I read felt my breath slow, and forgot about all the troublesome things crowding in on me. Thanks, Mark.

Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

Late for work

Up late tonight. Rising moon waxing bright,
huge and red and birthing white.
Workday tomorrow. Have to get up early.
Important meeting at two.
But there are shadows in this light.
I just heard an owl hoot.
I can’t stay up this late just to watch the full moon.
I need to get to bed and get some rest.
The moon wins again.
The owls hoot.

Copyright 2008 - HARDWOOD-77 Poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

Art Durkee said...

Wonderful to hear so many owls in close proximity.

One time, when I was living in my camper outside Taos, NM, for three nights in a row a great horned owl perched on the tall pole right next to my camper. It was no doubt taking a rest while passing through. It woke me up several times in the night. I saw it, it was that close, although I was unable to photograph it.

Something very otherworldly, reminding us we're not alone, and our usual world is not all their is.