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Eastern Screech Owl

The sun was beginning to go down behind the trees across the street. Miss Izzy was sprawled out on a slab of limestone in the shade of the Flame Acanthus. I was sitting on the bench nearby marveling how it can be that the heat can feel so good when you’re in the shade … and your skin glistens with sweat.

I gazed into the canopy of the Red Oak in the yard next door. It was a young tree when Vivian planted it before Trudy had bought this house. Vivian is gone. Alex has come and gone and now rents the house out. And year after year, Vivian’s Oak has grown, its leaves waving higher in the breeze, its trunk having added another ring. It is magnificent.

I was gazing in that direction. Thinking of the heat. And the Oak. And my eyes fell upon a… what was it? A lump of something on a branch.

“Is that an owl?”

I slowly rose and walked over the field of stones between the yards, picking my way carefully, because even though my feet are tougher now after three weeks of being barefoot (oh, what a good decision it was to quit my job!), the stones can still hurt. So I walked slowly, deliberately, not taking my eyes off that lump in Vivian’s Oak.

It was the dusty gray-brown of an Eastern Screech Owl. But it was not small. Not big enough for a Great Horned… I got closer. Yep. Definitely an owl, look at those round yellow eyes. 

No wait. Where did the eyes go? Are you kidding me!? That owl is doing that owl-thing: it has turned its head completely around, looking the other way without moving its body. And there they are, again. Those eyes staring down at me. Or was it… staring in the direction of Miss Izzy? 

“Well, it’s only an Eastern Screech Owl,” I tell myself. “Izzy’s too big.” 

“And it’s daytime,” I tell myself. “Owls hunt at night.”

And yet, I turn and deliberately but quickly make my way back across the ouchy rocks. And take a seat next to Miss Izzy.