Like October (Keeping Time), November (Binding up Loose Pages), and December (Learning to Dance), January has a focus. But I don't know yet what it is.
I did know. I have known. But here it is January and none of that knowing has stuck. Maybe we will call this month Seeking Something or Unknowing or Keeping Things Open.
Tuesday the new year dawned with a sun bright and strong. There had been a light snowfall in the night. Both sun and snow this early in the winter rare enough to constitute a holiday in and of themselves. Either auspicious enough a beginning on its own. I had no choice, of course, but to walk out into that snow and sun.
And on the way home, I saw an owl.* I stood in the middle of the road, halfway up the hill while the owl* swept out a perfect* circle around me. Three times around like the hand of a giant clock. Diving suddenly at some small thing in the short winter grass, some rodent, some running food. Once and then again.
It was chance probably that put me at the center of his circle, her circle. I don't know how to tell the difference with owls, if it is an owl this time of morning. With that big head, what else could it be. I don't know anything really except what everyone knows. That owls fly, usually at night, they eat mice, they say Who? Who? They are a symbol for wisdom in some traditions, symbol of bad chance in others.
It was chance that put me at the still eye of that circle spun around and around me. Chance, or the bird's own hunger, or the lay of the land, open fields on both sides on a sunny hillside. All I know is I stood and watched those huge wings, holding my breath, stood and watched the sudden dives as the owl fed itself.
My daughters and I had made shape bread the evening before for our New Year's Eve guests. On a whim: in the shape of an owl.
Which we ate. But the gap between our yeasty floury owlet and the real bird in flight has left me feeling foolish.
I saw an owl.*
I've played with the idea of making this a month of getting back to basics -- daily bread? my take on our daily family culture? more dedicated daily exercise?
Maybe there are basics more basic still than bread.
Maybe we will call this month Seeing the Owl.*