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. 

Comments (24) - Post a Comment
Beautiful. Love the last sentence.
Susan Cole at 9:32am EDT - July 16, 2018
Thank you, Susan.
Mark Liebenow at 9:56am EDT - July 16, 2018
Oh, I love this. I prefer to be outside, even it if is on my patio in the middle of town. Your last sentence makes me wonder if perhaps I am waiting for a bit of wildness as well. Thank you!
Gladys Strickland at 7:55pm EDT - July 16, 2018
Waiting for wildness. A wonderful expectation, Gladys.
Mark Liebenow at 8:50pm EDT - July 16, 2018
This is gorgeous, Mark.
Sarah Marty-Schlipf at 10:45am EDT - July 17, 2018
Thanks, Sarah!
Mark Liebenow at 11:22am EDT - July 17, 2018
How very perfect, and the sudden surprise of that last sentence! Thank You.
katherine soniat at 1:02pm EDT - July 18, 2018
Katherine Soniat. That's high praise! Thank you.
Mark Liebenow at 1:11pm EDT - July 18, 2018
I find it amazing that in such a short story, you can create such beautiful imagery. I also enjoyed the surprise of the last sentence, as I did not see it coming but it makes so much sense now that it is said.
Charlotte Sochia at 8:54pm EDT - July 19, 2018
Charlotte, your comments made me smile twice!
Mark Liebenow at 9:07pm EDT - July 19, 2018
This reminds me of watching the animals in my own backyard. I understand completely that longing for wildness. Beautifully written.
D M Oliver at 6:02pm EDT - July 21, 2018
Thank you, DM. Animals, birds, any wildlife, really, draws me into an awareness of the natural world and how much more there is going on.
Mark Liebenow at 6:27pm EDT - July 21, 2018
This is a very beautiful piece. As I am reading it, I am sitting here looking out my window waiting for an owl to just fly by. The ending really spoke to me. The ending that you have written could go with anything, many people are sitting here waiting for things but really what they were waiting for wasn't really what they have been waiting for this whole time.
Mercedes at 2:59pm EDT - July 22, 2018
Thank you, Mercedes. You are right. I think that many of us are waiting for what we don't know to arrive. When it does come, we're surprised, but we're really not.
Mark Liebenow at 3:26pm EDT - July 22, 2018
This piece is honestly breath taking. I could picture everything happening like I was standing right next to the writer. I love nature with all of its many different parts. The last sentence to this piece made it so much better. We all think we are waiting on something when what we are really seeking is within each and every one of us. Amazing piece I wish I was there.
Breanna Sisson at 8:40pm EDT - July 22, 2018
Beautiful. This piece was a great read and a good pick to rerun in this journal. The imagery and description was heavy and my absolute favorite line was " I watch the alpenglow clothe the mountains in rose that deepens to purple". Just a beautiful sentence, and the last line was a surprise but a good one. I wish I was i that place right now.
Rachael Barnett at 9:02pm EDT - July 22, 2018
Thank you, Breanna and Rachael. I wish I was right there, too.
Mark Liebenow at 9:35pm EDT - July 22, 2018
Soothing and calming my nerves as I gather the shreds of my life
Zafar Chaugule at 9:10am EDT - July 24, 2018
Zafar, I'm sorry to hear this. Part of the backstory to this writing is that Yosemite was where I went after my wife died.
Mark Liebenow at 12:34pm EDT - July 24, 2018
Thanks, I enjoyed this piece although I’m an indoor person myself! Took me back to a balcony on our travels where the sun set behind us while the light creeping up the rock of the ravine in front was amazing. We watched in silent awe. A moment I’ll never forget - which in itself was totally unexpected.
JoMae Spoelhof at 5:45pm EDT - July 24, 2018
Gorgeous - thank you for this.
Cathy Luna at 9:01pm EDT - July 24, 2018
You're welcome, Cathy.
Mark Liebenow at 9:58pm EDT - July 24, 2018
This piece has a poetic rhythm and flow to it. The descriptions are rich and vivid. When you write “I watch the alpenglow clothe the mountains in rose that deepens to purple”, I can visualize the mountains and beauty of the sunset. I also like that the author writes minimal descriptions about the main character because it allows me to feel as though I am the one climbing the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I also am waiting for “wildness”.
Megan Macarelli at 10:20am EDT - August 5, 2018
JoMae, there have been many times when I've been on my balcony or looking out the window at nature and have been mesmerized.

Megan, this pleases me, that the narrator did not get in the way of you feeling that you are the one who is there.
Mark Liebenow at 10:45am EDT - August 5, 2018

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