Friday, October 31, 2008

Sounds in the night

Something happened early this morning that couldn't have happened at a better time.

It was 3:00 a.m. and I was watching an old black and white horror film. It wasn't really very scary, but I love the ambiance in these old movies with the dark, shadowy woods, the fog that rolls over the country side and the sounds of the night creatures.

Just as I was about to turn the TV off, I heard the hooting of an owl. Although it came from behind me, I thought it was from the movie. I sat up and listened, first muting the TV. I waited a minute in the dark, straining my ears. Then I heard it, loud and clear, the strong hoot of an owl.

It sounded as if it were right outside my window. There are woods directly behind my house and not too long ago, I saw the large wing span of a bird that I hoped was an owl. I've scanned the tops of the trees and searched with binoculars the crevices and shadows where an owl might live, hoping to see one. But I never did.

I'm used to strange noises that drift through the night air and have heard frightened baby fox, screams of raccoons and possums, and even the the quivering cry of a screech owl, but I've never heard the eerie sound of a Hoot Owl (Barred Owl).

I opened my window and hooted back at the owl, but, wise as he was, he cautiously waited before he hooted again. Without my interference, he felt free to call out in the night. So I closed the window and laid in the dark and listened. At first the sound was unsettling, but after a few minutes it was as welcome and familiar as an old friend.

Every old black and white movie I've ever seen has an owl crying out in the darkness. A symbol of impending doom, the owl is seen as strange and frightening. It's the watcher of the night. But there in bed I rested, snug in my covers, listening to the owl as if it were singing me a sweet lullaby.

Whether it's an owl crying out in the night, a black cat running across your path, or a bat buzzing past your head, Halloween might just spook you with a little surprise. Watch those dark corners, beware those mysterious shadows and be careful of things that go bump in the night.

Have a great Halloween!

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