Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Family Memories ~ The Hoot Owl

The two boys walked home from a friend’s house, hurrying as they tried to beat the setting sun.  They tromped through the underbrush of the back woods, hoping to get into the chicken yard before mom and dad realized they had not started their chores.

The older brother pushed the tree limbs and held them aside as the younger brother followed in his footsteps.  They both watched their footing as they stepped over rotting logs into decaying leaves of the forest.  The air was still and thick with the scent of rotting underbrush.

The setting sun had turned the shade into long fingers of shadows, changing the familiar into frightening.  They were only a half mile from home when they heard the sound.

“Whooooo.  Whoo Whoo”  The younger brother stopped still in his tracks.  “Russ!  What was that?  Who said that?”

The older brother, glanced at his kid brother, his chest puffed with the excess knowledge of a grade school boy…”Aww Ed, it’s just an old hoot owl.  Keep going or mom will tar our pants.”

Russ and Ed kept walking toward the home, but the call of the hoot owl was more than a regular boy’s curiosity could withstand.  They  followed the call until they located the owl sitting about 20 feet above the forest floor in an old withered tree.  They walked with care around the tree, their eyes upon the old owl as they circled.

“Russ.  Do ya see him?  His eyes follow us no matter where we are.”

Young Russell was watching the owl intent with curiosity.  “Yeah Ed, I’m watching him.  His eyes follow us all the way around the tree.”

Ed leaned over to his older brother and hissed, “How does he do that?  It ain’t natural”.

Russell nodded, taking Ed’s arm as they continued to circle around the tree.  “Let’s try to catch him turning his head round.”

In the dusky hour they continued to circle the tree, their eyes straining to watch the owl.

That’s where my grandpa found them a half hour after they were supposed to be home for dinner.  Watching the boys continue to circle around and around the tree, he finally stopped them to ask what in “Sam’s hill” they were doing.

Great seriousness had deepened their voices as Ed explained, “Pa, it’s a hoot owl!”

Russ continued, “So we've been walking around and around trying to catch him spinnin' his head back to the front.  He ain't done it so we've been waitin' for his head to unscrew.  It’s been an hour and that ain’t happened neither!” 

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