I went out last night at 1130 to finally douse the lingering bonfire embers with the three 5 gallon pails of rainwater I had gathered for the fini of the bonfire after almost 48 hours. It had burned down to one final speck of log and the fire looked perky enough to carry it off through a few more hours but I had to end things and bed down. The bonfire had started huge, logs and logs and brush and stumps. All from clearing work we had done over the last few years. We thought, for a change, we might hire an excavator to come in and sweep the land clean but the price was far beyond our means, so you gather for days and burn. Tonight I carried out with me my Makita hand lantern that can go with a bright light up to eight hours on one battery. Certainly the lantern lasts longer than any of my power tools. I was going to set the lantern down on one of the large table top pine stumps I had saved from all the cutting the last few days. The way I cut, and the old pine trees toppled over or rolled, I was able to make some furniture pieces, as Sweetheart called them, so we had a love seat, two chairs, and one large table. Come on over for dinner! But what was that so close by in the young maple tree, on the lowest branch, six feet off the ground? And staring right at me. And not at all bothered by my sudden appearance, or the big light, and in fact it appears like my visitor-friend has been perched over the bonfire all the time I have been away as if guarding the fire for me while away, or else simply enjoying being around a camp fire light. What is it about a camp fire and all of us? We seem to want to gather by it. And here was a barred owl, not more than ten feet from me, not stirring in the least, hunched there before I was, and liking my company. I’ll never get this close to a barred owl again. This friend, and I believe it is an old friend — one I will leave unnamed but one Sweetheart and I in unison one day said aloud when we had another barred owl with us — in a snowstorm, again on the edge of the woods, and again watching over us, our work, our life, and wanting to be there. No matter how I moved with my rake and the buckets of water stirring into the hot coals bright as any universe there flat on the ground, did this bother my owl friend. When the owl wanted to leave it would leave. It would be a short hop from facing me to not facing me and then with a curve of the hand swoop down off the branch and be away. That’s how I would describe it all to Sweetheart with my hand when we were together in the morning. In the morning I went out to the bonfire to fetch my rake and retrieve the buckets. There was the maple tree. Just a maple tree.
[ BA ]