Saturday, March 08, 2008

One Night in a Thousand

After the cold front came through during the day, the wind died down late and settled into one of those cold, clear evenings that really are rare in these parts. Especially in March.

I had been inside most of the night, as I usually am these days. Time was, I enjoyed the outdoors as much as possible. Hot and cold were only richer parts of the experience. In the last few years, the cold has affected me more acutely than in the old days. Now, the chill makes me shiver, my kneecaps dancing a jig like the Riverdance group. My arms quake and my shoulders ride just below my ears. Speaking of ears, when the cold wind blows, my ears complain like they never used to.

But last night, as I closed out my blogging at around 11:45 p.m., I heard a low moaning sound. At first, I thought it mght be my twelve year-old talking in her sleep. She does that a lot, usually telling one of her sisters to leave her “stuff” alone in the middle of slumber.

I turned down the television, and heard it again. I began to realize it was nothing less than a hoot owl. It has been years since I have heard one of those, and I can’t even remember ever hearing one while at this house.

I shut off the television set and listened. Sure enough, the hooting was coming from the back yard. I moved to the darkened back door, and listened again. I then opened the door as quietly as possible. I had my trusty Mini Maglite, but I wanted as much dark as possible. All was dark, save the back neighbor’s stupid porch light, which is usually on twenty-four hours a day.

The night was absolutely still.

Not a breath of wind. No dogs barking. No cats crying. No air conditioners kicking on and off.




Only sweet silence, interrupted just barely by the soft “who—who--hoo hoo”.

In between the hoots, I looked up into the sky and saw Ursa Major, Polaris and the millions of other jewels scattered across the small slice of space that I could see from my back patio. But it didn’t look that far away. This is my element.

I turned on and focused the beam of my flashlight, and scanned the trees to the north of me, the direction the owl’s call. The weak beam didn’t reveal the caller, but I could see him in my mind.

Usually I am able to hear some local coyotes caucusing in the near distance, but tonight they were silent in reverence to the clear, cold and still nighttime.

It wasn’t very long, however, that the temperature in the high 30’s made me realize that short sleeves, jeans and a worn out pair of socks does not invite long gazing skyward. I retired to bed, covering up to combat the chill I received being in the elements.

As I lay down, I tuned my ears to see if my owl would serenade me to sleep. Apparently my prowling around must have encouraged my friend to move on down the line, because the silence was back.


charleyd said...

Well written my friend! Beautifully descriptive, I was right there. I love those times when nature lures you back to it and gives a little peace in an otherwise 'normal' night.

the photoSmith said...

and you didn't take a photo? a piece of the photography world just died my friend... but great post!

aA said...

Mr Photo, sorry, no light, only a point-and-shoot, no owl in do the math, no photography could capture that night anyhow!

Charley, thanx, your stories have that quality for me...

Anonymous said...

Geezer, have you seen this old geezer? I would have emailed you but found no contact for that.

Savior said...

You'll need .html on that geezer link to make it work. The old geezer post is at

Howlsatmoon said...

Looks as though the young feller had himself a "visitation".....

Excellent and pictured post Aa....

Been gone a bit, was that you that waved as I flew over Houston?

His visit, according to my Peskotomakati "wisdom", is that something has now ended...time to start anew.....things will be good with a visit from Owl....

And you, my Friend, deserve it. Thanks for the writing. the language of the Ancients..."Malsum"

Anonymous said...

A serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.
Ernest Hemingway

Rob V. said...

Actually, the owl did not leave because of your prowling around. He left because he just did not give a hoot.

aA said...

robV; i wait and i WAIT for that joke, and finally you oblige!

thanks, the post is now complete!