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Two days ago I was awakened at 6 am by a yelp.  As I came to,  I  was trying to work out what it was: mice squeak and rabbits squeal. Both sounds can mean that the  cats, Gwyd and Gilf, have dragged a live creature in to play with.  Because I live in one space (a small chapel) I have no defences from their ferocious play.  I sat up.  Panicked flapping wings.  Oh no, a bird.  I flung on my dressing gown and ran down to the ground floor.   Gwyd was waiting for a thrush-sized brown bird, huddled in the corner, to move.  I shoved him out of the way and lunged.  The bird flapped up and swung across the room, thudding into the wall and then the ceiling.   It had great big wings.  It perched on the curtain rail and then I saw what it was – a little owl!  Its penetrating eyes pierced me and held me.  ‘Come on, little guyl,”I said, “I am your friend, let me help you out.”  I opened the door wide onto the misty graveyard and the pool, gleaming under the setting moon, and  tried to chase him out.  He (now he had a gender!) kept bumping painfully on the walls.  While he hid under a chair and Gilf tried to hook him out with a paw, I made a cup of tea and drank it.  Then an image came to me: of throwing a soft cloth over him and carrying him safely outside.

The cats seemed bored with the game and went out to find more prey.  I found a small white, lacy cover.  It seemed the right colour for the owl, a mark of respect.   I flapped the curtainn and he flew up, bouncing again against the wall and tumbling onto the stairs.  While he was dazed I wrapped him in the cloth and took him out into the night.  I unfolded him onto the tin roof of my woodshed and immediately he spread wings and flew away, yelping as he went.

Afterwards I couldn’t sleep. The appearance of owls often marks a shift in  my life.  It did this time too, but that’s another story.  All I will say for now is that I am so glad I could rescue him before he battered himself to death in fright.


2 thoughts on “The little owl in the chapel

  1. Wonderful pictures. I would love to know what changes the owl brought last time. Will you be telling that story? Why are owls associated with wisdom? Is it because they can see all the way around? Where did the myths about owls come from?

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  2. Well, some of the changes owls brought might be too personal to relate here, but a few years ago, when I was doing something wrong, an owl came and shrieked outside my open window for half an hour. I was so terrified I couldn’t move!
    There are lots of different myths about owls, but, in the Mabinogion, a collection of Welsh-British tales, Blodueudd, the beautiful woman of flowers, who has betrayed her husband, is turned into an owl because it is the bird which other birds shun. So, definitely an uncanny feel about the owl in Wales, though personally I feel she is a messenger from the otherworld, or the between-worlds. If you look at an owl’s face, it feels as if you are looking at a human face, doesn’t it? Because their eyes are at the front, not at the sides, like other birds. So maybe they feel like something which lives on the borders between the human and the animal world?
    If you have ever seen a barn owl coasting round a meadow at dusk, you will know what I mean by a visitor from another world.

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