quick sketch - barred owl in hemlock
Its owl time in the forest... it had been a while since I heard them on regular basis, but now, as the pairs are out and calling, I often find myself standing silent in the driveway, or opening a window to listen, hearing that they are right outside, somewhere in the night. There is an owl who used to come and sit in a tree next to the house all day long. She hasn't been here in a while, but this is the time of year she would come out of the damp, cool forest to sleep on a sunny branch of the dead hemlock. We, Pasha cat and then Sophia cat, too, would wander around outside doing our daily things- me bringing in wood, Pasha and Sophia doing their daily cat hunting rounds - while the owl snoozed in the tree. She occasionally would open one eye to see what was happening, shift around and puff up or change branches to re-align herself with the rays of sun. I always felt wonderfully blessed and found it hard to get a whole lot done, just wanting to watch her and not miss the moment when she would spread her wings and glide off to other sunny spots. One day, a few friends came over one by one. I was sure the comings and goings of cars and people in the driveway would send her on her silent way, but she stayed all day reigning over my little clearing with black-eyed forest mystery. She hasn't come to sit in the hemlock or her perch on the oak in a long time, and I wonder with regret if she has gone into the mists. Screams and hoots and all kinds of owly soundings abound here still, but nothing compares to having an owl sleeping in a tree, day after day, ten feet from the house, not caring about the comings and goings of humans, cats and even the red squirrels who occasionally happened upon her with a start and a FAST retreat down the tree....
a happy Pasha cat in the driveway
As the snows melt, the many mosses, well watered and full of life, fill the forest floor with the exuberance of green. Unlike the brown fields in the open lands not far, spring in the hemlock forest is a green, jeweled tapestry of pattern and texture. Small pools of water gather between mounds of ancient roots and stone ledges, and the roaring of the river a mile away tells mountain stories to the peaceful wood. When I venture out for an afternoon walk, I stand, silent and listening, soothed by the natural rhythms of wind and water, and wonder at a place so full of the more-than-human world.