Waiting for Owls (rerun)

By Mark Liebenow

July 16, 2018

Waiting for Owls (rerun)

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.


Originally run February 8, 2016. 

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