Skip to main content

Urban Wildlife


Owl crashed into their drinking session and probably sent them all screaming and scampering away. Maybe the carwash boys were too drunk to see that this was an animal spirit come to take its share of the gin. Or maybe they weren't drunk enough. Owl just stood there, stunned, one eye shut. They captured Owl and put it in a laundry basket. They thought maybe it was sick. They also thought maybe they could sell it and make a little extra money.

This must have been the Owl we could hear almost every night in our neighbourhood. All my life in my childhood home, I could hear owl calls. I only ever caught a glimpse of an owl once. Now here was an owl in a laundry basket in a carwash down the street.

We bought Owl's freedom from the carwash boys for P500. They let us take the laundry basket. We kept owl for a day and a night, watching for signs of illness, injury or strength. Owl kept one eye shut the first day. Owl blinked at us with one dark eye ringed with brilliant orange. Owl flapped its wings feebly and barely acknowledge the strips of raw meat we offered. The next morning it began to open its other eye. It clawed at the laundry basket and flapped its wings more vigorously.

At dusk we opened the basket and turned it on its side on the driveway. Owl hopped out and stared at us. We tried to keep still and be quiet for this little god that appraised us without emotion, without judgement. Then Owl turned away, took two steps forward, and soundlessly glided away into the darkness.

This precious, close encounter happened December 2013. We can still hear Owl, or other owls, hooting or hissing among the pine trees and from the direction of the bamboo grove, almost every night. How good it is to still have the company of the wild.

Comments

Babeth Lolarga said…
beautiful creature! his temporary stewards have just as beautiful souls. reminds me of the time my own sister had to pay ransom for her dog-napped mini pin. but this is a wild creature--i dare not imagine its fate if you hadn't interceded. thanks for this, padma. the photo is a keeper, too.
Unknown said…
You are true to your name, Padma! Thank you for sharing this moment with the sacred. It must have been thrilling to be winked at by a god.
padma said…
Thank you Marj and Tita Babeth! This close encounter with the wild was a blessing. The other night we heard a loud hoot that sounded like it came from right outside our window as we ate dinner. It gave me goosebumps. That's what prompted me to re-tell this story. I am owl-love-struck.

Popular posts from this blog

Lola of Maipon

It's all too easy to fall asleep under the blanket of everyday life and to smother dreams with the mundane things I surround myself with. But once in a while, along comes a sparkling vision that jolts me out of my daily sleep and reminds me of the existence of convictions and worlds so different from my own. "Our beloved LOLA of Guinubatan, Maipon, Albay is the last true messenger of God. So, let us follow her holy teachings so that we will gain TRUE SALVATION without sufferings and without death." In another story I, the intrepid heroine, the adventurer seduced by mysteries, the pilgrim in search of truth, would follow them back to Guinubatan from Session Road, thirsting to see and hear their Lola for myself. However, it's all too easy -- much safer! -- to fall back asleep under the blanket of everyday life, and to smother dreams with the mundane things I surround myself with. Then along comes 9 a.m., and really, it's time to down the dregs of coffee at the bott

Cordillera Folktales and Story-telling

It was cold and wet outside on the day of the launching of The Golden Arrow of Mt. Makilkilang and other Cordillera Folktales . But inside Mt. Cloud Bookshop we were warmed by stories read and performed by the Aanak di Kabiligan community theater group. Storytelling on a stormy afternoon. Paco Paco. A Benguet story from the book, published by the Cordillera Green Network. Aanak di Kabiligan means children of the mountains. The theater group was born out of the Cordillera Green Network's eleven years of conducting workshops in which children transform their grandparents' stories into theater productions. Here they perform the title story of the Golden Arrow of Mt. Makilkilang and Other Cordillera Folktales.

Birds of Baguio and Benguet

The Little Boss and I went to see the Birds of Baguio and Benguet Photo Exhibit at the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary . I carried her so she could see them up close and she pointed to each and every photo demanding, "What's that? What about that? What about this one?" I dutifully read out the name of every single bird featured in the exhibit: Scale-feathered Malkoha, Luzon Sunbird, Citrine Canary Flycatcher, and so on.We discussed the colors of their feathers and the shapes of their beaks. Some of the birds were already familiar to her. The crow and the shrike are frequent visitors in our garden. Shrike in the hands of the Artist-in-Residence, with the Little Boss' first hesitant touch. Taken October 2013. Once a young shrike in flight crashed into our picture window and lay on the ground, stunned. The Little Boss and the Artist-in-Residence held it lovingly in their hands and as soon as it pushed against their palms they gently released it. That was The Littl