I’ve heard him call the question distinctively across the lake at dusk before. Or sometimes its from the swamp along the winding stream bed across the field.
A questioning voice without face its been, echoing through the woods, a mysterious and unseen part in the rich soundtrack of our little corner of the world. I’ve always been intrigued, but I’ve never had a chance to meet him face to face and give a courteous answer to the query.
That all changed this week. I was on my way to an early morning appointment, coming around a curve in the road. Suddenly the craggy tip of the dead tree at the side of the road blinked at me.
I didn’t exactly slam on the brakes, but I did come to as an abrupt a halt as was safe under the circumstances. I looked at the clock, decided I had five minutes to spare and put the car into reverse.
He’ll probably take a scare when I back up the car and fly off, I told myself—but it was worth a shot. And wonder of wonders, he stayed put as I slowly backed up, rolled down the window and focused my camera (that just happened to be fitted with a telephoto lens and sitting on the seat next to me). In the back seat, small girls oohed and aahed excitedly as he comically swiveled his head back and forth.
And then he was off, winging silently through the brown forest. And in all the excitement of seeing him through my lens, I had forgotten to answer his question. Was that why he sat and waited there so long?
But I’d miss the sound of his silly question echoing from the woods on starry nights—so maybe it’s just as well that I forgot.
“There the owl nests and lays and hatches and gathers her young in her shadow; indeed, there the hawks are gathered, each one with her mate.“ (Isaiah 34:15)
“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” (Psalm 104:24)