Owl Encounter

We were driving across the flat North Norfolk landscape after a visit to my father-in-law, dark beet fields stretching out on both sides of the road and no other vehicles to be seen.  It was dusk, the clouds were low and the car’s heater couldn’t shake the chill in the air. Light was fading fast.

Suddenly, there was a knock and a shadow in the driver’s window. I turned my head and saw a barn owl, the circles of its eyes like small headlights, inquisitive but not threatening. It hung there a while, barely moving its wings, and then swooped across the windscreen and disappeared into the winter sky.

wind rushes sea-like
across naked brown beet fields
an owl shadow drifts

Kim M. Russell, 2017

 

Barn Owl Tyto alba flying at night North Norfolk November
Barn Owl Tyto alba flying at night

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Haibun Monday:  Fukuroo—Who? Who? Who?

Victoria tells us that the mystique of owls came home to her when a friend gave her a book of poetry by Mary Oliver: Owls and Other Fantasies, a collection of 26 poems about owls and other birds. She says there is a number of associations between owls that underlie a sense of mystery, darkness, night, wisdom and clarity, and that owls seem to be a bird of winter because they are more often visible among the trees’ bare branches. She tells us that the Japanese associate the Kigo, FUKUROO, Owl, with the season of winter.

For today’s Haibun, Victoria asks us to write a short (less than 200 words) paragraph or two of non-fiction, considering the Fukuroo/owl. Follow that by a traditional haiku that includes a seasonal reference, not necessarily to winter.

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53 thoughts on “Owl Encounter

  1. Yikes.

    While owls are cool, your encounter might have scared me a bit. Filling the window. Knocking on the window.

    Nice job setting the scene in this with the heater barely working, barren fields – it set up the encounter nicely.

    On a side note, I used to hate beets. My mom had no idea how to prepare them – and they wer miserable. But I had beet hash in Asheville, and I love beets now.

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    1. The beets up here are mainly for commercial use – making sugar and feeding livestock. We call the ones humans eat swedes and although I love them mashed with butter and black pepper, they give me stomach ache!

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  2. ..like a circle of headlights…yes! That describes the owl’s eyes perfectly! Never thought of that.
    Your first paragraph sets the scene so very well…I enter into the scene and I am with you. A shadow on the window…but the knock? Oh that is mysterious…as if the owl wanted attention…appearing at your moving window. An owl encounter indeed.
    PS: I’ve never seen beet fields. Love beets but have only seen them growing in garden plots.

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    1. Thank you, Toni. The beets we have in the fields around here are mostly sugar beets – there is a bit of a sugar industry and the rest are used to feed animals mainly.

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  3. I think that the first encounter might have scared me, but then I would have been delighted… It does remind me of a story my father once told me of an owl that came and knocked at my parents bedroom window. It as Christmas and I think it might have been a month before I was born. My father who loved owls had given my mother a Steiff owl and they always thought that the owl had been looking for a mate.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this with us. I lived in Brittany in the 70’s, in a rural area, and your description of the scene was so evocative to me. I could almost smell the scent of the fields. The sudden appearance of the owl must have been one of those memories that will hang around forever.

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      1. We have one robin at the moment that greets me when I come home from anywhere and a cock pheasant who normally brings a bevy of females – he was accompanied by what looked like an albino male yesterday.

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    1. I remember that drive… Glad I don’t have to do it on a regular basis, although now my daughter is pregnant, I might be driving round the M25 again in the future! I preferred it when she still lived in Clapham and it was easier to get the train and the tube.

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  5. Gorgeous.

    Like I said to Grace, the poetry/rhyme in your prose makes this all the more beautiful.

    “dark beet fields stretching out on both sides of the road and no other vehicles to be seen” … This sounds stunning.

    I also love the last two sentences of your haibun, as well as the haiku.

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    1. I haven’t read your poem yet, Sherry, as I went to bed before you posted, but I will be right on it! As I said to Maria, as a group we have had some fabulous owl experiences.

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    1. I love that my writing has brought back memories for you, Maria – it happened to me several times while reading the owl haibun. Between us, we have some fabulous owl experiences.

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      1. We see that here too. One winter, I was driving home from work in heavy snow – very slowly – and a huge deer walked beside the car for about 10 seconds and, similar to the owl, stared in the window at me! Another time, one leaped over a hedge, across the road in front of me, and over the hedge on the other side. I definitely wouldn’t want one crashing into me.

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  6. An up close sighting. How exciting! It’s amazing that it pecked the window, while the car was moving. It really wanted to expect you humans…I knew it, they do see us and are probably as curious about us as we are about them.

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