Running Free

Running Free

Friday, January 9, 2009

Picasso's Owl

The air is tinged with a snippet of winter frost that leaves a tartness on one’s tongue and a sting on one’s cheek. The inky darkness has not quite thrown off her morning coverlets. The stars are canvassed against the purple ink of the nighttime sky. The long limbs of Eucalyptus, pine and oak trees stand dark and straight in their masked silhouette. This is my morning landscape from which I begin to paint my day.

The sounds of the early morning are soft and gentle; and this morning is no exception. I take my three mile jaunt along the walking trail and pass under a canopy of tree bows including the large Eucalyptus where I hear the familiar “hoot hoot whooo” of the owl.

This morning it is answered by another. I stop and look up and there before me high in the boughs of the tree is an owl shadowed against the sky. I can see another owl peering from the top of a nearby tree. Her wings are also open and she is turning her head from side to side slowly. She is listening. As am I.

The owl hoots again as his wings unfurl the full magnificence of his span. His face – two orbs of golden honey in a white face of feathers look down toward me. He lowers his head as if to welcome me into the solitude of the early morning calm. The gift of the owl – the acknowledgement of my existence in his world – gives me a shudder and tingle. I smile and he bows his head once more and brings his massive wingspan closer and stands still on his branch while his mate observes from a distance.

At the wee hour in which I often can be found taking my constitutional, much of the neighborhood is still slumbering. For me, this is the absolute best time of the day. The air is still, I can listen and hear the sounds of the morning: the twitter and chirp of first call from the local members of the bird symphony. There is no rush to compete. It just is. The moment.

The owl recently moved to the neighborhood. I am not sure where he last resided, but I for one am happy to welcome him. He sits in an aging Eucalyptus tree with leafy shards of tussled leaves that sway and toss with the morning winds. He is high up off the ground. I have to peer closely to see him – he is still and regal. Like a king on his throne. This is what I think.

His movements are deliberate and calibrated to an exactness that is fascinating. Sometimes, on my walk, I will stop myself from my ‘quick step jaunt’ as my DH refers to it and simply gaze up at him. I can see my breath – reminiscent of the caterpillar’s smoke stack in Alice in Wonderland. In the crisp morning air I can breathe deeply and enjoy the solitude of being. It is a gift that the owl has helped me to discover.

And then I trot on waving good bye to my friend the owl. For that is what he has become in some ways- a comfort – a part of the morning routine to which I have become accustomed. The early bit of the day is just that - a tiny moment - one from which so much of the remaining day’s landscape can then be painted. I wonder what today’s painting will be?...

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