The night of November 8 was a very special one. By 7:00pm, the full moon would normally have been casting its white glow over the land. After all, there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and the moon was high above the treetops.
Yet, instead of moonlight, there was an eerie darkness - the result of a lunar eclipse. As the moon rose in the east and the sun set in the west, the earth cast its shadow over the face of the moon. During the eclipse, the full moon appears as a pinkish-gray disk in the night sky. As the shadow slowly moves across the face of the moon, the sun again strikes the moon's surface, with glowing results. This is a good time during an eclipse to take a look at the moon with a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope. The partial shadow over the moon helps define its spherical shape - it truly looks like a round globe in the dark sky, rather than a flat plate. Seeing the moon this way gives the observer a new sense of depth and of the space between heavenly bodies. To me, it's a reminder that the earth we live on is also round, and that we are not alone in the universe.
Before sun-up, I woke to the soft hooting of a great horned owl. She was not far from the house, and her song broke the cold silence. However, her gentle calls weren't loud enough to keep me awake, and I drifted off.
I woke again at dawn to the excited calls of many crows. I had little doubt as to what was exciting them; they had likely found where the owl was roosting for the day. By this point 50 or more crows were crowded around a large white pine tree halfway up the valley. Some were dive-bombing something that was hidden in the thick green needles. The fact that the crows seemed angry made me believe that there was an owl in the pine boughs.
Eventually the pressure from the crows became too intense, and the owl had to seek a new hiding place. As she glided away from the tree, the crows followed her, calling in distress. She sailed off through the woods and out of view, noisy crows in tow. I knew there was no way she would be able to shake her pursuers; she would have to put up with their antics all day. Only when darkness fell and the crows went to sleep would the owl find freedom again.
Indeed, by blind luck, just after sunset I saw her glide across the valley and over a hayfield to the woods on the other side. I felt her sense of liberation as she flew completely alone, with no crows chasing after her. I guess it was my day to feel the spirit of the owl as well - perhaps a sign that I need to examine. The owl's qualities will help her survive in the natural world. There's always something to learn from an encounter with wildlife.
You may wonder how I knew that this owl was a female, before I had even seen her. The voices of the two sexes are different. The female owl is larger than the male, but her voice is a little higher in pitch than his.
There are lots of things you can learn by simply watching and listening. Store what you hear and observe in your memory for future reference. Gradually you will learn nature's lessons and begin to understand how it unfolds around you.
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