Legacy Writing 365:338

This is a new photo, taken in the wee hours of Monday morning when I went outside with the dogs for a few minutes. I could feel EYES watching me; usually that means a rat is lurking somewhere, or a cat has interrupted some good old-fashioned rat stalking to stare at me. I don’t know if this is the same visitor I photographed in March of last year, but I was lucky to get one good photo this time.

Though it’s a new photo, I have an old story to go with it.

There’s a 1967 Canadian novel by Margaret Craven that was published in the U.S. in the early 1970s titled I Heard the Owl Call My Name, the story of an Anglican vicar who goes to live with Native Indians in British Columbia. I’ve never read it–now that I’ve remembered it, maybe I will–but my father was reading it one week when my mother was out of town. The phrase that gave the book its title comes from a Kwakiutl legend: When you hear the owl call your name, death is imminent.

When my mother returned to town, she or Terri brought Daniel for a visit. He was probably around this age.

While she was unpacking, Daniel did reconnaissance of the house–as I’ve mentioned before, she was always changing things. He came into her bedroom and said, “Grandmother, why is there an owl in the living room?” She pretty much ignored him, as adults are wont to do when children say foolish things. When he persisted, she said, “I have a lot of little birds all over the house, Daniel. [true; she collected wooden and ceramic birds and owls] Which one do you mean?”

He took her hand and led her to the living room, the least used room in the house. Then he pointed to a real, live owl who had somehow found its way inside and blinked sleepily at them from its perch.

I’m not sure how they got the owl out of the house–except that I know it wasn’t harmed.

Daddy was grateful that he didn’t hear the owl hoot in the night while he was reading his novel, because as he said, the title might have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And I learned that it’s always a good idea to listen to Daniel.

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12 Responses to Legacy Writing 365:338

  1. Debby says:

    I had forgotten this story. Thank goodness we have you for our family historian!

    • Becky says:

      Thank goodness you and David are reading so someone can help me get the details right sometimes…’cause my memory isn’t as sharp as it once was. It’s hell turning 35.

  2. David M says:

    This type of event apparently happened when my mother was little. Something akin to…

    Mom: Daddy, Daddy! Wake up! There’s a bat in the house!

    Grandpa: Little girl, go back to bed. There’s no bat, honey.

    Mom: But Daddy, there is!

    Grandpa: (huffs) Okay, sweetheart, but when I show you there’s nothing, you have to promise not to wake…what was that? Oh my Good Grief, Miss Agnes! Ma, WAKE UP! WAKE UP! Hand me something to swat with – we got a bat!

    • Becky says:

      No. 1 Great story.

      No. 2 Now I want to say “Oh my good grief, Miss Agnes” all the time. And steal it for a story. But I won’t, because it’s not NICE to steal from other writers who might want to use their family stories themselves.

      No. 3 This led me to another beautiful Tumblr (I have ambiguous feelings about Tumblr) called “Good Grief, Miss Agnes.” Check it out sometime. I just spotted owls on it, but no bats yet. http://goodgriefmissagnes.tumblr.com/

  3. Robert Edler says:

    Love that photo! I have walked through the JFK Memorial Forest a number of times in hope of seeing the owls who inhabit it. Never have seen them. Guess I should have gone at night, but who in the hell walks through a forest in the middle of the city after dark?

    • Becky says:

      Vampires, that’s who. And you don’t want to tangle with them.

      Thanks! Shooting in the dark, I could only hope I’d get one shot of him looking my way. That was the only one. I have more pictures of him showing me his backside.

  4. Rhonda says:

    I wonder if that’s the same owl I saw one night when leaving The Compound. It was a couple of houses down, in a puddle in the middle of the street. Its back was to me, and I couldn’t quite tell what it was, being only lit by my headlights and the discoloring amber glow of the street light. I’d stopped for a few seconds, not wanting to run it over in case it was hurt and couldn’t fly away. In my head, a bird just sitting in the middle of the street, rather than in a tree, must be hurt. I was still thinking “What the hell IS that?” when it turned its head all the way around to look at me. “Ah. Owl. Cool.” Then it flew up onto a branch hanging over the road. To this day, it’s the only owl I’ve ever seen.

    • Becky says:

      I don’t know. I remember when you saw that one–I think it was before I finally saw one last year, because I was all, “WHY does everyone see the owl but me?” These little guys eat bugs. I want one of those big ol’ honkin’ rat eatin’ owls. Although that kind probably would have picked up Paco, and Lila would never forgive me.

  5. Lynne says:

    I still regret not having my camera with me the night the 2 great-horned owls were at the church. They were HUGE. I quickly put Minute and Paco back in the car (they were there to run) and watched them. They were hunting and as one flew off it flew about 10 feet over my head. It was AWESOME. My only owl sighting todate. I heard them for years at Green Acres but never saw them.

  6. Mark says:

    Top photo – and a good story!

    My great-aunt told me that her father (my great-grandfather) kept an owl at home once. He was a seaman and used to come home with all sorts.

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