Philosophy | Nature | Seasons | Wildlife

After the Owls

If there’s a joy in shorter days, it’s greeting the dawn at a more civilized time. We all have an idea of what that word civilized means to us. I celebrate the late evenings when I’m able to stay awake long enough to enjoy them, but generally call it a night well before last call so that I might have the early morning solitude. Life is full of trade-offs, and we must choose which edge of the day to hug closely. The alternative is to sacrifice sleep. But sleep should be non-negotiable.

In the darkness of early morning October, I sat in the dark with a family of Barred Owls overhead, gossiping in their most hauntingly unique language, an eavesdropper whom they were no doubt aware of but with whom they could easily talk circles around. All the while the sky brightened and the waning crescent moon cut in and out of the inky black clouds. Eventually they tired of toying with me and took their conversation elsewhere. And there I was, in the sudden stillness at the edge of the woods, alone with my thoughts.

What do you do with the waning darkness after the owls have moved on? You might think about the game of life and sort out how to play it better. You might conspire with hot coffee and the slow appearance of the world. You might replay the highlights of the previous day; what went well and the what might-have-beens. Or you might just listen to the world around you as if waiting for more instruction.

When you wake up to the loud conversation of owls the rest of your day has a tough time measuring up. But isn’t it fun to give it a go to see if you can? In that time, after the owls, I decided to leap. And, having decided, the real work begins.

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