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Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Remember the Owl

One day the electric men came by and trimmed the limbs away from the electrical wires on the big tree in front of my house.  While they were trimming they found an owl's nest in a hollow of the tree and gave me a half-grown baby Screech Owl.  It was very pretty and really seemed quite tame.  I guess I thought if a baby owl was so tame and such a neat thing to have then a big owl would be even neater.  I was nine or ten years old so I had the normal “Huck Finn” inventive mind, which allowed me to come up with a plan. 

I didn’t have any rope, so I made a rope out of strips of ripped up rags.  I tied this to the baby owl’s leg, leaving enough of a loop in the rag rope that he could sit on top of the fence post and still reach the ground without hanging upside down.  I then sat him on top of the fence post in the front of our garden behind my house. We had two big trees in the side yard, the one the owl had come from and another near the back of the house.  I sat by this second tree with Mom's broom cocked over my shoulder waiting for the big owl to come get the baby.  My ingenious plan was to wait until the big owl came to get the little owl then while she was busy I would capture her between the broom and the ground.  I reasoned that I could hold her there until I could get control of her and tie a rag rope to her leg also.  I realize as you read this you can see all kind of holes in my plan, however try to remember some of your own plans when you were that age before you call me stupid.  Near dark she came flying around the house and saw her baby.  She landed on a fence post in the back of the garden, took off again and disappeared.  I waited, bent over with the broom cocked and ready by the tree.  Suddenly something hit me, very hard, on top of the head!  The owl had flown around the house, swooped down on me from behind and struck me with her closed claw feet as she flew by above me. 

I danced and waved the broom at her as she sat back down on the back fence post again then I immediately vacated the premises for the safety of the inside of the house as she took off in flight again.  The next morning the baby was gone from the fence post and was never seen again.  I do not know if she carried it back to their nest or where it went but I was soon to learn that she was not done with me. 

All summer the owl would suddenly appear as if from no where, always when it was near dark and strike Mom or me more often Mom than me, on the head.  You never saw the owl coming, only going away after the knock on the head.  If we ever saw her first before she struck we knew to get in hiding either in the house or the hen house.  We had a lean-to back porch roof on the back of our house and sometimes if we were standing under that roof she would sweep between the roof and us and get in her strike.  Boy, did I catch heck from Mom all summer for the trouble I caused and for the knocks on the head she got.  Every time she got thumped on the head I think I got thumped on the bottom!  It helped me to remember that things don't always turn out like you plan and you usually must live with the consequences

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