by cheri sabraw
Those of you who have been hanging around my blog for four years will remember my photo montage and accompanying description of the Bird Man of Sunol, Irv’s, building us a custom owl box and installing it in the olive orchard.
The overly hopeful, idealistic, and Pollyanna-ish person that I can be on occasion (not a good combo because I am often disappointed), skipped out to the orchard the day after the installation, looking for signs of an owl pair. Boy. What was I thinking?
A year passed.
My hopefulness receded into to a cold reality.
Any possibility that an owl and her mate would shack up here with us on the Rancho was as remote as the reality of Hogwarts. Invaders–field mice and vols, flying insects and humping lizards–all darted unrestricted out there in a merrymaking Bacchanalia while we slept across the creek in our bed.
One day, a year later, after Dinah and I plodded through the orchard, our heads held as low as the ubiquitous mouse holes and snake dens invading the adobe soil, knowing we would find an unfurnished apartment in that barren box, I returned to my computer to pen this description of not only an owl box, but also about the eccentricities of living in my own owl box with my mate.
Three years passed.
I gave up.
Several nights ago, my wise old owl and I drove in our Gator over to the orchard where we have a small viewing deck with two Adirondack chairs. We watched a steamy red sunset. We complained about the traffic on the road, the state of affairs here in California, about the loss of culture, and of myriad other topics that begin to encroach on conversation if one does not zealously guard the nature of discourse.
The sun disappeared behind the Peninsula and dusk began its death march into night.
Out of the thicket of black- green oak trees, a white bird flew toward us.
“Did you see that, Hermione?” Harry asked me in a low voice.
” Yes. What could it be?” I straightened my horned-rim glasses.
Then it buzzed us in total silence as raptors do, gliding southerly oh-so-close to our wine glasses, looking down and scanning our shapes and movement as if we were fat sumptuous mice lounging on the chairs after consuming olive fruit flies in excess.
” OMG, Harry. It’s a barn owl. I saw its heart-shaped face, did you?” I whispered into the air.
Another one, darker in color, emerged from the wood, flapping his wings in mysterious silence and flew to the fence, his silhouette made visible by the setting pink sun.
Another heart- face, he perched with two rather threatening talons, surveying the night’s epicurean possibilites.
They both flew to the owl box. One went in.
I said in my child-voice, “Harry, mail delivery. It’s a barn owl.”