I wouldn't have caught sight of the owls had it not been for my partner and his family spotting one in the trees, off the walking trail that circles the pond. I have love for the woods, but not always as much patience as is required for the trees and creatures to fully unfold themselves to me in a way that I notice right away. Once we spotted the owl, perched high on a branch of a very tall tree in the distance, we stopped walking and started whispering to each other in wonder. "Look, there's the owl! Oh - she sees us!" As we stood there in the descending twilight, staring in wonder at this newfound (to us) creature, the owl returned our gaze and stared right back at us. It hit me in this quiet but complex moment that I was not just seeing my first wild owl; this owl was seeing me. We were, without words, encountering each other. Noticing, smelling, sensing, deeply aware of our senses in this moment. While I don't doubt that this kind of intense presence is commonplace, necessary for survival, for the owl, for me?
It was an experience that plunged me below the surface of my mind's usual chatter. It felt wild and wonderful.
W.B Yeats wrote, “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” I am grateful for this brief but beautiful encounter with another living creature on a mid-July evening, and am wishing you a way to feel wonder sometime very soon.
(The photos above are of my sunset walk, and below, the image of a screech owl that May Alcott painted for her sister Louisa May Alcott directly on the woodwork over the fireplace in Louisa's bedchamber, courtesy of Orchard House's digital photo gallery. As a docent and educator at Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House, I immediately recalled this image upon encountering the real thing in the woods this past weekend.)