October 12, 2007

Rain! Rain!

Met a beautiful creature like this one this afternoon. We were walking to Haskell's Beach from the service parking lot of Bacara when we had to step aside for a little cart coming down the path. Perched on a railing at the back of the cart was a tethered, hooded hawk. I'd never seen one up close before, but I immediately sensed the power of this beautiful bird. The driver told us that Bacara had hired him (and his birds) to fly around the resort to discourage seagulls from disturbing the guests and the grounds. The presence of flying predators sends them out to sea.

As I was listening to the falconer I noticed a pair of vivid gold eyes staring at me from inside a wooden box on the floor behind the driver. It was a Eurasian Eagle owl and it was beautiful, too. I've always had a fascination with owls but once again had never seen one upclose. It's eyes were so compelling you had to stare at them. The owl stared back until it was distracted by a black lab. Clearly it was more interested in four-legged creatures than the admiring two-legged ones in front of him.

He had striking patterns of feathers in muted variegations of cream, brown and black. I got to touch them with the back of my hand, so soft. The oils from the front of human hands apparently have a negative effect on the feathers. What else did we learn...owls are social animals--a group of them is called a parliament. Their wings are silent when they fly, no need to scare off their prey. Their eyes don't move, but their necks spin almost completely around. The falconer also mentioned that the female Eagle Owl is a third again as big as the male. Don't know of many species where this is true.

I was thinking the whole time about one of my favorite picture books, Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. She managed to capture the wonder and magnificence of these birds and their silent nocturnal world with a beautiful economy of words.

Our walk started out under grey skies but about 20 minutes into it the rain came. Just seeing, hearing, feeling and smelling rain was a real treat. It's been so long since we've had any signifcant moisture other than fog in Santa Barbara. We kept walking for another hour and got pretty wet. By the end my hooded sweatshirt had absorbed enough water to soak through my t-shirt, and my bangs hung in wet clumps over my raindropped glasses. Not attractive but refreshing.

Usually I prepare for rain--waterproof jacket, hat, umbrella. It was different to experience it without anything to prevent me from getting wet. No layers of protection to deflect and distort. I enjoyed rain like I did as a child. If the sand had collected puddles I am sure I would have been jumping in the middle of them.

It occured to me that maybe this is how I should be approaching my writing. Nothing to protect me. Just taking risks and jumping in puddles. Or maybe I just need a new umbrella...

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