Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Night Owl, White Owl

I had labored long and hard in the forest, cutting and stacking firewood. My muscles ached as I undressed and unzipped my sleeping bag. I sat upon the lower bunk and turned down the Coleman lantern. The last waves of it’s light, like ripples in a pond, traveled to the walls of my cabin, where they disappeared into the infinity of the night.

I stretched my legs down into my sleeping bag, and propped my head up with my pillow. My eyes opened just a little, seeking to answer the question of why the cabin seemed to still be unusually bright. My query was answered as my eyes were filled with the beauty of a rural Pennsylvania night sky shining through the cabins only window--with ten-thousand stars illuminating the heavens.

I closed my eyes and drifted off into a deep, restful sleep. A kind of special sleep granted by Mother Nature, only to those who labor long and hard in the wilderness of this earth.

Then, it started. After too few hours of this wonderful reward of deep sleep, it started.

“Who. Who-who-whooo.” Please go away Mr. Owl. “Who. Whoooooo. Whooooooo.”

“YOU, that’s Who.”  Uh, I am not going to put up with much of this.

Still in my long johns, I slipped into my work boots, grabbed an empty bean can from the trash, and stumbled out into the crisp early morning forest air.  “Whoooo.” I turned to face my nemesis. There behind me, on a branch of a tall, old, Hemlock tree, was an owl, a pure white owl.

I was about to toss the empty bean can at him, but it abruptly started to snow, quite fiercely, and the icy crystals stung my sleepy eyes. The owl took flight and disappeared deeper into the mystical, moonlit-snow-globe of the forest.

I turned to scurry back inside, but as I did I was struck with fright as I saw a rather large creature lumbering down the streambed on two feet, some fifty yards away. It did not turn to look at me, and I dared not take my eyes off of it. I fixed my terror struck gaze at the wall of reeds where he disappeared into the swamp.

I did not get much sleep for the rest of the night. It’s hard to get comfortable with the cold barrel of a loaded shotgun, lying in bed next to you.

I knew that as soon as it was eight o’clock, Old Lester at the General Store would have his door open and coffee brewing. At seven-thirty sharp, I started to make my way up the forest trail to the road. I followed the road down the mountain to Lester’s General Store. When I was ten feet away from his front door I saw him turn the door-lock and a dirty old sign, to OPEN.  In the course of our morning conversation, we determined that it must have been a bear walking on two legs, maybe it had cut it’s front paws and couldn’t walk on them. Either that or it was a bear that had escaped from the circus… yeah, right.

What it is, is a great story about an owl, and maybe, it’s about that big hairy thing that lives deep in the back woods of rural Pennsylvania. The big hairy thing that the locals don’t talk openly to city-folk about, or maybe, it was just the icy snow in my sleepy eyes.

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