Last week when daughter #1 was home for a few days and we were sitting out in the Florida room on an unseasonably cool evening, we saw a huge owl swoop down and fly through our yard. He perched on the neighbor’s basketball hoop and we sat and watched him.
After awhile he swooped down again into the grass where he sat for a bit. We couldn’t see if he had caught some poor unfortunate creature. From a distance and in the near dark he looked like a big chicken on the ground. We went outside to get a closer look, but he flew off.
It was an awesome experience. I have been out several evenings since then but I haven’t seen the owl again. I have heard some hooting, but that is all. Anyway, this all reminded me of this bit from Hiawatha’s Childhood:
When he heard the owls at midnight,
Hooting, laughing in the forest,
‘What is that?” he cried in terror,
“What is that,” he said, “Nokomis?”
And the good Nokomis answered:
“That is but the owl and owlet,
Talking in their native language,
Talking, scolding at each other.
Then the little Hiawatha
Learned of every bird its language,
Learned their names and all their secrets,
How they built their nests in Summer,
Where they hid themselves in Winter,
Talked with them whene’er he met them,
Called them “Hiawatha’s Chickens.”
–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This is how my mind works.
By the way, on the way home from work yesterday I had to stop my car as a doe bounded across Warson Road. Three little fawns came crashing out of the woods following their mother one after the other. None of them stopped to look both ways.
So much nature in such a short time!
At the door on summer evenings
Sat the little Hiawatha;
Heard the whispering of the pine-trees,
Heard the lapping of the waters,
Sounds of music, words of wonder;
‘Minne-wawa!” said the pine-trees,
Mudway-aushka!” said the water.
Saw the fire-fly, Wah-wah-taysee,
Flitting through the dusk of evening,
With the twinkle of its candle
Lighting up the brakes and bushes,
And he sang the song of children,
Sang the song Nokomis taught him:
“Wah-wah-taysee, little fire-fly,
Little, flitting, white-fire insect,
Little, dancing, white-fire creature,
Light me with your little candle,
Ere upon my bed I lay me,
Ere in sleep I close my eyelids!”
The illustration from Hiawatha’s Childhood is by N.C. Wyeth.)