Waiting for Owls

By Mark Liebenow

February 8, 2016

Waiting for Owls

Evening returns to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the land cools. Day follows the sun across the valley floor and up into the mountains in the west. Birds settle down for the night.

Sitting alone in the dusk on the edge where forest meets meadow, below towering Sentinel Rock in Yosemite, I wait for an owl to appear. Alpenglow colors the white granite peaks a warm crimson. Half Dome, rising a thousand feet above everything else, holds the last golden rays of the sun.

I catch movement in the corner of my eye. A great gray owl, with its five-foot wingspan, glides down to the meadow, picks something up, and flies silently to a tree across the way where it is hidden from view. After twenty minutes of nothing more, I watch the alpenglow clothe the mountains in rose that deepens to purple.

When the cold works its way through my coat, I head back to camp on the barely visible path. One hundred feet away, out in the meadow, something large and tan is lying in the grass. It could be a coyote in the stillness of the silence watching the world drift past, sniffing the air for tomorrow’s weather. But it’s so dark that the mound could also be a log. I will not disturb either’s contemplation.

I realize now it wasn’t the owl I was waiting for, but wildness.


Photo "Owl" by Daniel Tuttle, provided by Flickr's Creative Commons license.

Keywords: nature
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Comments (6) - Post a Comment
Daniel beautifully depicted the summer Sierra evenings and why we are drawn outside. It's our nature.
Peggy Lamb at 9:50am EST - February 8, 2016
An evocative post about an owl species I've always wanted to see.
Ann Marie Ackermann at 10:00am EST - February 8, 2016
Thank you, Peggy and Ann Marie. It's always a thrill when an owl lets me see it, because I know that it knows I'm there.
Mark Liebenow at 12:40pm EST - February 8, 2016
The settling, the holding, the deepening, the knowing...it all resonates. Thank you, Mark.
Catherine Klatzker at 2:08pm EST - February 8, 2016
Thank you, Catherine. I appreciate your phrases - settling, holding, deepening.
Mark Liebenow at 10:06pm EST - February 8, 2016
It definitely knows you're there, and that makes it such a gift when it lets you see it.
Ann Marie Ackermann at 12:59am EST - February 9, 2016

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