taking leave 8.20.2010

The owl was in the Vestal Place sheep shed with a companion. They both took their leave when we rounded the corner, one through the hole in the roof and the other over my head and out the barn door. I caught just its wing in a photograph. Richard and his sister Sonja both responded to our last sighting as if the owl was an old friend. “He’s been there forever,” they each said, then both speculating that perhaps this was a descendant of the owl they knew as children. “But owls live a long time,” Sonja added.
I found another owl feather on the shed floor, but the wind took it. Yesterday I found a small owl feather on Daisy Peak and the wind snitched it from my pocket. I must have my quota all ready. The feathers are brown and cream with strips run across the grain…a complicated set of information all coming together to make a barn owl.

The time has come to gather my things and leave the sheep shed. The wind will continue to push in and around this structure without me, occasionally clutching at the now loose corrugated roof. And when it is very hot, the roof will crackle, but only the owls will be there to hear it with their beautiful feathered ears. It is time to leave the Vestal Place all together, not knowing if I will have the chance to return. Maybe never understanding why it draws me or why I could sit on this overturned half barrel on a floor of manure just inside the large barn door for hours listening to a soundtrack of wind, birds, insects, and sometimes cows, no longer sheep. It is time to drive up the old road and out of this valley, across the prairie and through the barbwire gate for the last time this summer. Every thing behind me pulling me back, the silence that is not silent, the emptiness that is not empty.