Monday, November 9, 2009


We loved it when owls would visit our Colorado "ranch". It isn't really a ranch, although it had been a working cattle farm until a developer bought the property and turned it into five parcels, ours being just over twenty acres. The beautiful home that won for Barbara's eldest daughter, the architect Kristin Lewis, the top design award for the Colorado north chapter of A.I.A. a decade ago, is actually a two-stor(e)y house, with the lower floor below grade level. There are two abandoned silos on our property, and it was a delight to watch the owls when they would perch on one of them. The owls used to feed on the prairie dogs which often infest the area. Reluctantly, because these little pests are often very cute, and we disliked ending their life, we went along with our neighbors exhortations, and eliminated the prairie dogs.

No prairie dogs, no owls.

It wasn't long before the prairie dogs came back, but owls are few and far between.

I recently had a dream. I had called a friend on the eastcoast who mentioned a friend of his living in the same area. I heard him say that this friend was also his "owl". I did not understand what he meant, until he explained. My friend's friend was a retired neighbor, who was a fount of information to a small group of people. If he didn't know the answer to a question, he knew how to find it out, even if google didn't help! When I woke up, I thought more about this, and decided that it was a great idea for a small group - perhaps members of a club or parishoners at a local church - to choose someone they trusted as their "answer person". After all, many societies had their shaman or "medicine doctor" who performed similar functions for their societies.

This lead me to think happily about owls and their legendary wisdom. It also reminded me of some good advice displayed on a wall close to the bathroom I shared with my elder sister until we moved in 1940, soon after my father's death. The sign read:

a wise old owl lived in an oak
the more he saw, the less he spoke;
the less he spoke, the more he heard.
Why can't we be like that old bird?

Great advice. I wish I had followed it more often!

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