A conversation with an old friend who lives near the island I once lived on in Washington State, brought back a vivid image, a profound feeling and an almost unbelievable story.
Believe me or not, the following incident really happened.
One afternoon I was opening a new trail in a forest thick with elderberry, cedar, hemlock, alder and blackberry vines. In one sense, I was alone there in the wild. In another sense, well, I’ll continue.
As I pushed branches to the side, into the underbrush, one stick sprung back and poked me in the right eye. Intense pain filled me with fear that I had lost my eye.
Clutching my face, careful not to rub more dirt in the wound, I stumbled back to my tiny cabin. Slowly lifting my hand away, dreading what I would find in the small mirror on the wall, I opened the eyelid and tried to focus. Washing the eye with cold well-water, I was relieved to “see” I still had vision.
From the corner of my good eye, I saw movement in the trees just outside the open door. Looking up, I saw a frequent visitor: the barred owl. She seemed especially curious, and I needed a distraction from my injury, so I brought my camera out and slowly walked nearer the branch she was perched on.
Aware I was closer than I could normally get to her, I slowly raised the camera, peering through the lens with my left eye while keeping my still-stinging right eye closed. Showing no fear, she sat in a steady pose and as I snapped several shots both my eyes filled with tears. Lowering the camera I stood in amazement, not believing either of my eyes. My feathery neighbor gazed down at me with peaceful curiosity, and …
She had one eye closed … her right eye!
At that moment, I was deeply grateful for her sympathetic companionship.
(With one eye or two, you can see the incredible moment in the slideshow. You’ll also see my neighbor’s sharp-as-knives talons).
Nothing could bar my relation with the barred owl, my wild connection with this wonderful forest friend.