i guess my self-imposed exile has come to an end. i mean, it’s been a year of avoidance and disdain and aerobic thresholds and shame and the opposite of shame: less shame. no more crazy women unless you are a crazy woman, no more whimsical journeys to the fountain of youth, no more midnight saunters along the cobbled path of life to seek happiness that can’t be ordered…unless it’s from amazon.com and includes free shipping.
i am free. free dammit.
okay, so the owls have kind of unraveled and reraveled and i am getting older and purportedly wiser, but manifestation of the same has yet to appear to celebrate this, my “blogging out” party.
the golden child has been here all summer and found gainful employment at the alpine slide where he is exercising his pick-up lines on unsuspecting teen-aged girls and getting one hell of a farmer tan.
“no really nikky,” the father said to the boy, “tans just go away, like so many things in life.”
take that obi wan…
the boy is taller than his dad but years away from being smarter. i remember my dad telling me things; snippets of advice and all i could think was “my dad is full of shit”. but you know what? he was right, except for all the things that time has proven him wrong, like i don’t know…”the future is plastics and someday, curling will be more popular than horse racing.”
so nikky is taller, but most of that isn’t because he is growing but because i am shrinking. it sucks, but at least i don’t have to bend over so far to pull up my knee-high socks.
and now for the rest of the story:
and then, one night in the spring of 2012, during the drudgeries of yet another 3-min owl(less) “stop”, i realized the thrill was gone. nights and nights and miles and miles without boreal owls and all that back pain and mental meandering and apathy and humorous asides that were funny only to me because i was the only one privy to them and the bliss of frostbite and indifference and you know what i said? i said “fuck it.” i took my data sheet and started my car and headed towards the big puddle and knew i would never perform a standardized owl survey again as long as i lived.
ahhh, the good life.
then the next spring (2013) came and i kind of floundered because each night of clear skies and calm winds, i felt like i should be doing something i had done for each of the previous 25 years: listen and chase owls. gradually, i eased the anxiety with ocd skiing and mountain biking and other distractions that make sense only to me because well, there is only one owlman and once upon a time, i was he.
okay, truth be told, i did go out in 2013, but just because i wanted to and just because i am trying to make sense of all the things that i experienced in those 25 years and was subjected to and that now, are irreversibly gone.
i didn’t hear a fucking thing.
okay…one lowly barred owl and a saw-whet, but the saw-whet was in my back yard and i just wanted him to shut up because all night it was “toot toot toot”, and i’d hear that and felt like i needed to go observe his reproductive behavior but mostly, i just wanted him to shut up because now at the ripened age of 58, i have finally figured out that crapping and sleeping are what i do best.
and now the days are growing shorter and my tomato crop sucks and it is likely i will not be canning 20 quarts of salsa this year and you know what? the saw-whet migration is only a month away and i am kind of excited about that. unlike surveys, i can band from the convenience of my home. i don’t have to swill a pot of coffee and drive for 45 minutes to get to the owls; instead, those little bastards come to me.
last year, i banded 629 saw-whets and slept in my bed each evening and went to work and the next night did it all over again…for 6 weeks. in 10 years, i have banded and released over 5,000 saw-whets.
still not bored.
my fingers have been pricked by many talons and sometimes i grow weary but not once do i look at an owl and go…”oh…this is boring…i wonder what’s on the travel channel?” my big night last year was 80 and it was steady and stressful and at the same time: blissful. it was just me and my two nets and a whole lot of owl mojo.
it’s what i do, peoples.
soon will come an uncomfortable stretch of warm weather, which will give way to a chest-thumping canadian cold front and the firewood will be split and stacked and the leaves will drop and windows will be shut and all the northern latitudes will go:
i can’t wait.