Monday, November 24, 2008

A Wise Visitor

A couple years ago we had some big problems with water weeds in the fishing pond on the property here at John's marble base studio. Long story short, this past summer there weren't many fish in the pond but there were LOTS of frogs - big frogs, little frogs, tadpoles and every size in between. One day as John was headed to the studio he felt a presence of something but he wasn't sure what it was. As he gazed around the property, there on the south side of the pond, in the branch of an old dogwood tree that had been damaged in the ice storm of 2007, was a large barred owl. When I say the bird was large, barred owls can get up to two feet in length and weigh 1 to 2 pounds and this one was on the up side of these statistics! As you can see in the picture, the owl had focused it's sharp eyesight and keen hearing downward into the water. It had discovered the frog smorgasbord! Before he knew it John witnessed the owl drop from the overhanging perch into the water, snatch a frog with its massive yellow toes, bring it to shore for the feast, then return to the branch to position itself for the next catch. The process went on for hours.

This owl visited periodically for the feast until the frog population corrected itself and it moved on into the surrounding woods for its normal diet of small mammals, bats, birds reptiles, amphibians, insects and earthworms. Last evening after I fed our 3 dogs we were taking a leisurely stroll and my Springer Spaniel suddenly stopped and gazed into a tree. I saw a quick movement but could not hear a thing. After a few seconds I saw our owl lift off, spread its wings and glide out of the tree and around the corner of our shed without the slightest sound. They are such lovely creatures. Can we learn a lesson from the owl? Some people say the term "Wise Old Owl" is not really true - that the owl is really not an extremely intelligent creature. But I disagree. This owl is a reminder to me of some of the most important things in life today: stay focused, supplement your diet with local, seasonal foods whenever possible and fly quietly to leave a small footprint on the earth.