Autumn’s a Hoot!




My favorite time of year has finally arrived.  I absolutely love autumn!  Fall gives us a welcomed reprieve from the stifling heat of summer and provides cooler evenings for us to enjoy being outside again.  My family likes to build fires in our patio fireplace and then watch the bats circling crazily overhead as they feast on flying bugs; bugs that just weeks before, had been feasting on us.  Crickets come out of hiding and offer songs that seem louder and happier and even skydiving nighthawks and the owls in our pine tree add their calls to the night party.

The smells of wood smoke and burnt marshmallows, the crunchy leaves underfoot, the crisp air and clear skies all combine to make the sight of the giant harvest moon much more than just memorable.  Fall nights are magical; each night with a life of its own.  The magic intensifies as nature occasionally adds an extra trick to the treat by laying down a coating of snow to quiet all sounds except those of the animals.

Author Jane Yolen, illustrator John Schoenherr and publisher Philomel Books teamed up to create a wonderful children’s book titled “Owl Moon”.  The story is about a little girl and her father who go “owling” one night near their farm.  They walk through the snowy woods, while the father calls out to the Great Horned Owl who lives there, hoping to hear a response.  Our sons loved that book when they were little, but we didn’t get a chance to take that walk before they grew up.

I heard an owl in the wild for the first time while taking a break at the edge of the woods out behind the mill I worked at about a dozen years ago. I couldn’t see the owl, but I thought about “Owl Moon” so I called back to it, mocking its hoot every time I heard it. After a few minutes, the owl went silent. As I peered into the dark woods, suddenly, silently, a huge Great Horned Owl appeared out of that darkness, flew directly at me, glided a few feet over my head and disappeared back into the cover of night – all before I could catch my breath.  When they come close enough to hear the air moving over their wings, but you can’t see them, it’s amazing and terrifying at the same time!

Although I can’t say I want to get that close to a Great Horned Owl ever again, the experience served to deepen my love of the autumn woods all the more.  Winter makes me yearn for the new life of spring.  Spring often makes me wish I’d done a better job of weeding the garden beds in early fall.  Summer makes every effort feel as though it will surly cause me to melt away.  But fall – that is a time of year I never want to end.  The celebration of sights and tastes and smells and sounds is a total hoot!

© 2016 Curt Savage Media                                                 

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