Where the Owl Lives

The gentle snowstorm slowed my uphill walk. The wet, accumulating snow felt cool but comfortable. The whiteness was a blanket for a dark interior, a surface for the place where the owl lived high on Dryden Hill. The snow accentuated all the contours of the woods, attracting my attention to the shapes of shrubs and trees.

Ash, maple, oak, and shagbark hickory. Weeds and stone wall, brook and tracks of deer. I stopped for a tree sparrow at a thicket, for a winter wren secretive, busy in the upturned roots of a gully. There were powers in this place, and my thoughts flew as if to know them.

shagbark hickory…

I thought, let me widen my senses and adapt to their calling. Let me hope that brain and heart and hill engage as one… Let me dream that the fight to save our natural environment begins right here, with the struggle to preserve the best of one’s home. Let me trouble myself, then be at peace. Our civilization. How to fix it? Who knows, but talk about an overhaul! Shout revision of goals and values– top to bottom– if anyone or anything can survive!

thru the snowstorm… where the writer lives…

the owl flew from the top of this maple…

I’ll  keep walking who knows where. I’ll call this the place where the owl lives, where the snow turns into mist. My glasses will fog and streak, my vision blur. Walking downhill, I’m absorbed by the rain and trees. My center moves. The great horned owl lifts from the canopy. The snow accentuates the contours of each bough.

where the bees lived….

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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16 Responses to Where the Owl Lives

  1. Brent says:

    Beautiful photos of Owl Farm and its surrounding hillsides and woods, covered with deep fresh powder while we’ve had to make do with some spitting frozen sleet down here. I love that sense of deep quiet that falls with a heavy snow, and I get a little of that peaceful feeling from these words and images. Stopping by woods on a snowy evening…

    • Thanks for that! And I hope you get an opportunity to stop by a quieted intersection without any vehicles on a snowy evening before this winter’s out… (which is better than a crowded one with spitting sleet).

  2. JZ says:

    Our brooks need that quite blanket of snow in the deep woods. They rest more soundly and are more keenly aware of disturbances along there banks. Natures self healing remedies right there in action. Lets hope that owl lives long and in peace high on Dryden Hill. It would interrupt a delicate balance that’s held-up for eons. It seems your walk was fruitful Walt and that the deep woods helped sooth your soul.
    Semper Fi brothers for upholding tipping points all over! Including ones not found in our backyard.

    • Anglers, walkers, trout and owl… We all appreciate that blanket of snow in February. It’s an insulation & a promise for a greener time… Thank you, JZ; we’re glad for your company, too!

  3. plaidcamper says:

    Wonderful words and images, Walt! Fresh snow on tree limbs has to be one of my favourite winter sights, and worth stepping out into the chill to go and see. As Brent mentioned, the quiet found under a blanket of snow is also a sensory delight.
    I wonder what a put upon wise old owl makes of the state of the union? Silly question…
    Thanks for this!

    • Thank you, pc; I know that you, for one, appreciate that fresh snow on the boughs sensation, as does our friend, the wise old owl, who (hoo!) is hooting for a fresh new state of the union too….

  4. Jet Eliot says:

    A real treat, Walt, to join you in these beautiful woods on your wintry day. Your words and thoughts were a pleasure, and the snowy woods filled with life even on such a frigid day, was a quiet joy. I felt like I was there when the owl lifted…divine. Thank you.

  5. Poetry, Walt. Sheer poetry.

  6. Bob Stanton says:

    I am missing “winter.” The small interludes we have had are sufficient only to whet the appetite for a full-on, extended piece of the dormant season. I miss strapping on snowshoes or skis. I miss the juncos knocking snow from the undergrowth as they flit from shrub to sapling. I miss the sound and smell of wind through the white pines. Maybe it’s yet to come…

    • I know what you mean. It’s been here only in drips & whispers, basically, and maybe it’s a preview of winters to come, but… “winter” may be a two-part show this season, and early Feb. may be only the intermission….

  7. Mary says:

    What a beautiful post! As you say, there were powers there in those snowy woods. I could feel the quiet, the magic as I read your words and looked at those wonderful photos. How dearly we need that quiet these days.

  8. loydtruss says:

    Absolute gorgeous images and great post to describe it all—-thanks for sharing

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