Monday, May 10, 2010

Things that fly unexpectedly through the night

"There are no Lions, Tigers or Bears on Orcas Island."


This weekend Ken and I decided to make a retreat to the San Juan Islands, in the Pacific Northwest.   Technically speaking, this was to be our very FIRST weekend away from kids since having kids --sad, but true.  This prolific chain of islands --for the number of actual islands remains ever in dispute by locals, due to changing tides-- are very beautiful, pristine and rustic.  Furthermore, the locals have made an extensive effort to minimize intrusions by man on most of the island.  Thus, one naturally wonders:  what kind of wildlife might you happen to find roaming about upon these islands?  With this thought bouncing around in my mind throughout most of the long ferry ride to Orcas Island, the first question I thought to ask upon departing the ferry was "Are there bears or cougars on the island?"  Now, don't laugh!  When I'm in strange territory, I like to know what I am up against ... 'Forewarned is forearmed', or something like that.  Anyway, I was emphatically reassured by the owner of a nearby inn there were NOT, in fact, any dangerous wildlife to be found on the island where we were staying.  So: no worries, right?  WRONG!

Last night, my husband and I lay reclined, relaxing in the warm, soothing waters of the Jacuzzi, located just outside of the little cottage where we were staying.  We had all  the cottage lights, inside and out,  dimmed so as to enable a better viewing of the spectacularly clear nighttime sky.  Suddenly out of nowhere  a strange and rather ominous presence, a creature of the night, paid us an unexpected visit.  Yes, as we lay reclining in what I had thought had been a protective pocket of warm, bubbly relaxation, without sound or warning, a HUGE shadow, with easily a four foot wing span, swept silently through the darkness of the surrounding night in our direction.  My heart skipped a few beats and I held my breath as the ominous creature flew towards us, literally just feet away from the hot-tub, its claws extended and heading on a trajectory that seemed to end at the back of my unsuspecting husband's head. Thankfully, however, the razor sharp talons continued along a path which led them safely beyond the reach of the back of my husband's head, as the giant winged-creature continued to fly right on by us at a high rate of speed, whereupon it ended the execution of its maneuver by landing itself stealthily upon a precarious perch, atop a towering evergreen tree not twenty feet away from our Jacuzzi.

"Did you just see that?!" I exclaimed loudly to my completely clueless husband, but he had been turned at an angle, away from the huge winged beast. Thus he had not seen the huge creature swoop by in the very nearby vicinity of him.  Though, I failed to see how my husband could not have felt the resultant disruption of air-flow generated by the giant creature's swooping flight?

(Image from:  Great Horned Owl )

"Huge wingspan ..."  I managed to get out.   " ... Just flew over, not 3 feet away" I sputtered on.  "It must be an owl?!"  I concluded, finally, collecting my thoughts along with my breath.  This was my attempt  to try and explain the bewildering scene I had just witnessed.  Of course, for the moment, I omitted the fact that this creature's long sharp talons had been in such close proximity to the back of my husband's head.  I would add this piece of the story later, when I had my wits about me once again.

"Look, he's perched atop of that tall tree, just at the edge of the clearing, off to our right ." I pointed, with a shaky hand, toward the huge dark shadow which now set atop the nearby tree, it's large luminous orbs penetrating eerily into the darkness of the surrounding night.

Ken turned with skepticism to get a better view for himself.  Said treetop bent painfully in sway, lilting off to the left, under the weight of this enormous nightly-winged majestic beast.

"Wow?! That's HUGE?!!" Ken agreed, with surprise.

"Ya think?!"  I thought to myself. "And you've absolutely no idea how close his talons just came to engaging with the back of your head."

We sat watching the giant owl for several minutes, but the creature showed no signs of moving anytime soon.  Then suddenly, out of nowhere, my husband decided he needed to go inside the cottage in search for something he'd forgotten. Timing is everything???

"I'll be right back."  Ken announced, hastily, as he extracted himself from the warm waters of the Jacuzzi to brave the chilly nighttime air.

"You're leaving me ALONE? ...  ALONE, out here with that HUGE thing?!" I asked incredulously. 'Some night in shining armor you are' I thought to myself.

"Oh, he's not going to bother with you. He's too busy looking for something scurrying along the ground right about now.  Sit tight:  I'll be right back." Ken replied, and with that he went inside, closing the cottage door behind him with a loud, echoing bang.

So there I was, ALL ALONE, in the company of this huge owl, who now set upon his nearby perch intently watching me.  I took a deep cleansing breath, mostly in effort to reassure myself that all would be okay.  That being said, I wasn't going to take my eyes off this winged-fella, not for ONE second.  

"I'm bigger than he is, right?"  I attempted to reassure myself, as I tried to bury myself  into the relative safety of the Jacuzzi bubbles.

The creature, for his part, sat unmoving,  unflinching, save for a set of large luminous eyes which seemed to wander, back and forth, rapidly inside the creature's head as he went about the business of sizing me up.  But to be fair, I was in the process of sizing him up as well.  This owl was easily the size of a two-year old child and his eyes seemed to be deeply questioning me as he sat atop the nearby tree intently pondering me. I sat frozen in my cocoon of bubbling water, not daring yet to move, let alone scarcely breathe, as I pondered back this strange creature's pondering of me.  

"Surely some mouse, or rabbit, would make a tastier feast than me?" I reasoned. I guess the winged creature happened to agree with my silent observation, for after a good five minutes of sizing me up he took to flight once again, sailing away -- to my great relief-- in the opposite direction of me.  "Whew?!!!!"  I sighed, finally finding the nerve to breathe again.

While it tis true I happen to adore almost all things with wings,  perhaps I draw the line at things with wings, sporting large and incredibly powerful claws, moving stealthily under the cover of darkness, in the night, and in the nearby vicinity of ME. Especially, when those 'wings' are capable of extracting blood and pain?!!?

Once my ominous visitor had taken to flight again, and I was sure he was unlikely to return again, I began to breathe once again.  Then I tried my best to relax and unwind the spent-up tension in my neck and shoulders.  It was at this point that the more rational, inquisitive side of me began to re-engage and suddenly I wondered: was this visitation an omen?  Was this owl visitor some sort of sign or a message meant just for me?  I wondered if perhaps the visitation meant that the owl is my animal totem?  Perhaps this particular owl was a messenger sent to signal that an awakening was about occur in me?   Needless to say, I've always wondered what my animal totem might be?  I've never been able to say for certain, though I've had many interesting 'run-ins' with things with wings, over the years, starting at a very young age  [I wonder, does everyone have an animal totem? ]  At the conclusion of the latter pondering, I tried my best to put such my wondering, always wandering, thoughts aside.  I then reminded myself I was on vacation and supposed to be in the process of relaxing,  at the conclusion of which I concluded  "You think way too much, Michelle."

And so I made a sincere effort to try and relax once again, allowing myself to sink further down into the warm massaging bubbles, this time while actually breathing, long deep and slow ... "Try to relax"  I thought to myself as  my husband, Ken, finally made his reappearance and reiterated the same.

(Image Source Unknown?)

"The owl is gone."  I informed my husband.  "Do you think he'll be back?"  I wondered aloud.

My husband glanced briefly towards the empty tree-top before answering.  "Nope, don't think he'll be back.  In fact, he's probably snacking on some nice tasty treat even as we speak."  Ken tried to reassure me.

Then Ken tried to distract me with a reading of stars and constellations which painted a breathtaking picture upon the quiet of deep indigo country sky.  First Ken pointed out the Lynx, after which he moved onto toward the constellation of Cancer, but as we moved from Cancer toward the constellation of Virgo another unexpected --this time wonderful!-- surprise lit up the nighttime sky: it was a shooting star.  A beautifully glowing, dancing star  which almost appeared to be smiling right at me.  : ) I smiled my own smile, as I took in the falling star's brilliant dance.  This shooting star moved so gracefully across the indigo sky, before falling into a final magnificent twisting spiral leading it from Cancer right into the lap of the constellation of Virgo.  After which, of course, I paused to make a wish upon this falling star.  I remember thinking to myself, at the time, "God does indeed work in mysterious ways." And with that thought in mind: I have every confidence that  He has been working all along to make my wish come true.

And we did see lots of other wildlife while on the island as well, including: a huge osprey landing in its mammoth nest, a walrus, dolphins, Harbor seals, Canadian geese, deer and more.  I must have taken near 1,000 pictures.  Haven't gone through them yet to see how they turned out, but I am hopeful that I got some good shots.  It was a very relaxing and renewing weekend.  I'm glad that my husband and I made the effort to visit the San Juan Islands, even it was just for a short weekend. It's good (healthy) for parents to remember who they are (i.e., apart from their children) every now and again, I think.

Hope all of you had a wonderful Mother's Day weekend as well!    : )



P.S. Ken and I were home by 1:00 p.m. on Mom's Day to spend the afternoon with the kids.  After all what would Mom's Day be without the kids, no? ; )  I'll post my trip ... tripping : ) ...  photos in a Flickr album shortly. I hope. Lots to do ...

Okay: Here is the link to photos from the trip, Flickr album:
San Juan Islands Trip Photos

Update:  Found this link with info on the symbolism of the owl and the owl as totem ... After reading this(coupled with my sixth sense and other-worldly experiences):  I'd have to say that the owl is most definitely my totem.


  1. I'm quite certain there are no walruses in puget sound

    1. This was not Puget Sound. It was the San Juan Islands, body of water being the Strait of Juan de Fuca leading into the Pacific Ocean proper. You may, however, be correct about the absence of walrus in the Puget Sound proper.


Thanks for taking a moment to share your thoughts. I'll read them and post them soon! God Bless! M