The Owl in the Night


As is often the case, I was wide awake the other night, when I would rather have been sleeping.

But the anxieties that usually visit me at such times were suddenly stilled.  The low, nighttime din of insects had been pierced by a sweet whistling.  Beginning on a high note, the whistling continued, each note lower than the last.  After seven or eight notes, the whistling stopped.  Then, a few moments later, it resumed in the same way, starting high and ending low.  After several trips down the scale, each sequence followed by a pause, the pattern changed.  Now the whistling was one low, sustained note, filled with vibrato!  It sounded absolutely quivery.

The owl doing the whistling must have been very near, closer than I can remember ever hearing an owl in the 14 years we have lived on this ridge in the Shenandoah Valley.  I lay in bed, listening intently, thrilled to listen to an owl’s nighttime calls.  Insomnia had paid off!

After what must have been more than a minute, the owl stopped its whistling.  And the night was the same again, silent, except for the ongoing summer sounds of the insects.

But I was different.  My anxiety had been replaced by deep joy.  Happy, I drifted into a pleasant sleep.

P.A.  I think the owl I heard was a barred owl.–April Moore

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