Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I go to a Hootenanny.

Yesterday, my first day back at work, was absolutely horrendous and I had a sinking feeling that these next two weeks were going to be the longest of my life. I kicked myself for giving five weeks notice instead of two.

I drove in this morning full of dread...and then I think God kind of chucked me under the chin and told me to quit stewing on the what ifs and focus on Him instead. Okay. Huh. What a novel thought. So I tried it. And what do you know- it turned out to be a pretty good day. In fact, quite blogworthy...

This morning, Matt told me that there were only five who were going on the field trip this afternoon - a meeting of the local Birding and Gardening Club which was open to the public because there was a presentation on owls. ( The girls are studying birds of prey right now.) He was going to take them and didn't need me to go but I asked if I could come along anyway. Well, to be truthful, I practically BEGGED him to let me go. It sounded too fascinating to pass up...and hey- good blog-fodder. So, kind boss that he is, he said yes. Too bad Marci couldn't come...

There were probably around forty to fifty women- most of whom were well upwards of 55- and maybe six or seven men. So walking in with 5 teenage girls and Matt was interesting. "Which one of these does not belong?"

Well, this woman who gave the presentation is an owl FANATIC. She and her husband photograph owls and they own several different varieties of owls- all with disabilities or who were born in captivity. As some of the owls can live up to forty or, even in some cases, fifty years old, she said they had made provision for them in their WILL! Oh my word. Some of the owls have the run of her house! She gave a fascinating slide presentation and I learned more about owls than I thought I'd ever know. She had brought with her six or seven live owls and brought them out from boxes one or two at a time, tethered to her hand of course so they couldn't fly around the room. Included were a saw-whet owl, a great horned owl, spectacled? owls- native to Central and South America, a barred owl, a Eur-asian variety ( can't remember the name), and a screech owl. She asked for volunteers to come up and practice hooting the different calls with her. Several of our girls volunteered and it was fun to watch them try to mimic her owl calls; they also got to call to different owls when they came out of their boxes. Some of the owls even hooted back.

The owl lady also asked for a "Brave Volunteer" and another of our girls raised her hand and went up. Then the lady said that she was going to put her on whitewash patrol- basically to clean up any poopy messes that might occur as she brought the owls out. Oh how we laughed. But the girl was a really good sport. She also got to clean up owl pellets. This was the most fascinating and disgusting thing I learned; owls cough up the solid leftovers of what they have eaten the night before- rodent bones, skulls, etc. in these awful little dark bundles of nastiness. None of them coughed up the pellets in front of us, but there were some in the boxes- wonderful little surprises. Of course, the owl lady gave our girl gloves and paper towels and stuff...But, as I said to Matt, " She'll never complain about cleaning the bathrooms again!"

So, it was a pretty fantastic day...and such a contrast to yesterday. Sigh. This job STILL boggles me. One day I'm tearing my hair out because there are two terrible twits giving me a run for my money, and the next, I'm learning about owls and laughing my head off...

5 comments:

DJ said...

Good luck Claire! Keep up the courage and all that :) Hehehehe...

Glen said...

OWLS!!!

Some years ago I worked at a medical equipment manufacturer on the north side of Concord. Just over the back fence was the cemetery where Mettie is buried... also Elsie Gott. There was a line of tall eucalyptus trees along the fence, and several families of barn owls lived in them.

We had several Vietnamese technicians working in the test cells, just a few feet away from that fence.... and culturally they seem to have this thing about owls and cemeteries. They all put a brave front on and wouild deny any superstition, but they all seemed to take care to be on the way home before the sun set. Day shift only.

Once I saw a huge, ragged, shambly shape swoop out of a weeping willow tree, near the employee's entrance as I walked to my car. It was just dusk. It perched on a light pole at the edge of the parking lot. With binoculars I identified it as the biggest horned owl I'd ever seen. He'd been sleeping all day in that huge willow tree, as hundreds of people came and went, direcly below. After a bit he winged away, toward the open fields between us and the refinery to the north. He was on his commute to work.

Another time, well after dark, I stopped and walked into a nearby dry grass field, looking toward the refinery just a half mile away. There was in "event" going on and they had the flares going. Very noisy. I was slightly rustling the grass at my feet, and suddenly this barn owl was in my face, not three feet away. It looked at me like, what the (blank) are you doing here?! Pretty startling at that distance, for both of us.

Talk about agility... that bird "turned on a dime" in midair and was gone in another instant. I realized afterward that it had been hunting rodents, and the rustling in the grass had attracted him. Even with the roar of the refinery so loud and so close.

Marvelous animals.

ljmax said...

Ethan is petrified of owls--dont know why...

Loreo said...

Owls are so cool, and when we lived at this one house in California with a decent amount of property, we had owls living in a huge oak tree. And we'd find those curious owl pellets on the ground with mice bones and such. Fascinating! Okay, how many words am I supposed to find from "RFXAAUH," Claire? =)

TripleNine said...

I went to a nature learning center once for school and we actually got to disect some owl pellets!

I have to agree with the others, that owls are very cool.