Last Friday night while the boys were downstairs watching the latest and greatest episode of The Clone Wars, hubby and I were confined to our room watching a not-quite-kid-appropriate, Rated R film. About halfway through the movie, I started hearing a low, intermittent noise, like a child trying to impersonate a cartoon ghost. I immediately assumed one of our nutty boys had pulled the cover off the heating vent in the family room and was now “whoo-ing” up the vent at us to be funny. Oddly enough, this was a perfectly logical conclusion on my part. I went back to concentrating on the movie.
The noise continued periodically for about 10 minutes. Finally, my curiosity got the best of me. I crawled out of bed and trudged to the top of the stairs and yelled down to the boys.
“Who is hooting?”
“Whaaaaaaat?” came the response of my completely befuddled Joe.
“Is Luke hooting?” Is Luke hooting? Hahahahahaha. I am one crazy mother.
“Ummmm…no. We’re watching The Clone Wars,” was Joe’s exasperated reply. Then, he said, “But, I do hear something outside. Maybe it’s an owl?”
An owl. That certainly was a more rational explanation for the noise. Steve paused the movie, we grabbed the boys Sonic Sleuth toy (a gift from my friend Rebecca which has granted the boys bionic ears to use for spying on their parents), and headed downstairs. I opened the curtains on the slider and looked up at the top of the tallest tree around our house, a cottonless cottonwood directly behind our yard. Sure enough. At the very top of the tree there was a dark, bird-like shadow. I told the boys they had to be unbelievably quiet and as stealthily as possible I eased the slider open. Luke put the Sonic Sleuth headphones on, aimed the cone at the object, and we listened. We didn’t need the machine. Sure enough. The hooting commenced again, clearly originating from the bird at the top of the tree. It actually was an owl. We were mesmerized.
We stood there listening to it and watching it for a couple minutes before it got restless. It began to flap its large wings.
As it flew off the tree and towards the nature preserve where it most likely lives, Joe said, “Listen….silent flight.”
I was amused at his statement. How cute was that? How are you supposed to listen to something that is silent? But, he was right. As that Great Horned Owl took flight, you could not hear the wings flapping like you would with other large birds. It was amazing. Joe’s innocent reminder about the way an owl’s ragged wing feathers allow it to fly soundlessly was a gift to his father and I who, over the years, have lost some of our childlike wonder at the world and its creatures. Thankfully I never lose my wonder at my children and their view of the world.
All week long I’ve been reflecting on the events of last Friday night, ruminating over what an honor it was to have that bird so close to our house and to have been fortunate enough to share in its existence if even for a few moments. I’ve been thinking too about how much I miss because I’ve become accustomed to the world, and I don’t always use all five of my senses to experience life anymore. The sad truth about growing up is that we learn to block things out. We filter out things we think are not important. We ignore more than we acknowledge, and yet somehow we consider ourselves wiser than our children. I have to wonder who we think we are fooling.