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The Story of a Baby Owl

Let me tell you a true story of a baby bird, but first let me warn you, it’s a sad one.

On the fourteenth of April I saw a baby owl, a Tawny Owl, huddling underneath a tree in the forest where I sometimes walk the dog. It was huddled on a path they call the “Story path”. You can take your kids there and stop to read story posts. The trees closest to where the owl resided was the “tomte” tree (Santa tree) but also very close to the Wishing Tree, where I often stop to quickly contemplate the future.

There was a sign close by, alerting people of the bird, warning them of the mother who was probably looming in the trees nearby, ready to scratch your eye out if you came close to her baby, assuring people that she was still taking care of her baby.

The bird was huddled to the tree, sometimes sleeping when we walked by, sometimes alert, its beak poking out from underneath the fluffy fuzz. It seemed alright, and since there was a human made sign I was certain there were people keeping an eye on the little fellow, making sure it wouldn’t be abandoned down there on the ground, having lost its way from the nest.

Let me bring you back at the start of the year. In January when the earth was frozen, the air was chill, albeit not as chilly as you’d think during that time of the year, before this part of the world was too worried about the virus, I saw a deer in the forest.

Now this isn’t news. You go to the forest you’re liable to see a deer at least fifty percent of the time. This wasn’t a normal deer however as it was completely white.

I felt like I was watching a magical creature skip through the forest before me, quickly vanishing between the trees in the distance. This is how stories of unicorns came about, I’m sure. This creature looked like something out of a storybook, and at the time I saw it as a good omen.

I still see it as a good omen. I refuse to see it differently, despite the shitshow this year has turned out to be so far. I’ve seen magic in nature before. I especially remember the hare that refused to leave my backyard during an especially difficult period of my life. It stayed, kept me company at a distance, reminding me of different days and of how to keep an optimistic view.

Yesterday afternoon, feeling low, I decided to take an extra walk in the forest. Haphazardly we took to the Story path, not knowing what we’d have to face.

My dog is a joy, and she completely ignored the baby bird (or strangely didn’t see it!) each time we walked past it. This time was no different. She waits as patiently for me, when I stop to look at something, as I do when she needs to poke her nose into the earth to smell something.

This time the walk turned out to be a tragedy however, because the baby owl was dead on the ground.

I didn’t stop by the Wishing Tree this time. I walked the path and then I went home, feeling the devastation deep at the centre of my heart. With all that’s been happening in the world, and the impact that’s had, it took the death of a baby owl to shake me at the core.

This world isn’t fair. We do what we have to do, we do it the best we can and we still face defeat.

This morning I was up early. The sun is gracing us with its presence finally, waking us early. The birds are friendly, chirping, singing. Life goes on.

I took my dog to our favourite part of the forest. The place were we saw the deer back in January. It was early and still winter-jacket weather. I had to scrape the windshield of the car too. It quickly becomes warmer and towards noon it’ll be t-shirt weather, but the mornings are still cold.

We weren't eager to face the day, but glad to get the chance to walk the forest in the morning sun, to get the chance to slowly wake to reality.

And right there, at the same place as in January, something amazing happened.

The cynics amongst you will tell me that it’s logical, that it has to do with territory and flock, but shush and let me have my moment.

We saw the white deer again. In a flock of regular deers it stood out, magical, delicate and instead of quickly vanishing into the bushes it lingered in the distance, gracing us with its presence, staring at us from a safe distance, calm enough to just be and watch us walk slowly down the path, admiring its grace.

Nature is brutal, but it’s also beautiful and it fills me with hope. It shows us just what is to come, the rawness of it all, but it also shows us that there is hope for the time between, hope in the moments, and if there is something as gracious and dazzling as a white deer then there surely is magic in this world. We just have to keep our senses open for it, calmly look for it and suffer through the rawness life presents us with.

This too shall pass.


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