I DID NOT HAVE nearly enough time to explore the International Owl Center in Houston. That would be Houston, Minnesota, not Texas. My husband and I were on a tight schedule to reach La Crosse after lunching with friends Doreen and Tom atop the ridge near this southeastern Minnesota community.
Still, we squeezed in a quick visit to this small town center featuring all things owl. I’d forgotten the center existed, although I’d written about it years ago for a magazine.
We popped in during a quiz show about owls and I was promptly recruited to a team. I contributed zero. I was more interested in shooting photos than in competing.
I multi-tasked—shooting photos, reading educational information, viewing displays, listening to the game show host and eyeing three tethered and perched owls. If only we could have stayed long enough to learn more about that trio of owls.
Owls are popular these days. In décor, clothing, art…
My personal interest in owls stretches back to my childhood and visits to my great grandma’s house in rural Wabasso. There, in a bachelor great uncle’s bedroom at the top of a staircase as steep as a ladder, an owl perched atop a chest of drawers, wings spread wide, eyes piercing fear into my soul. Fear, though, didn’t stop me from viewing that owl shrine every single time I visited. I don’t know the story behind the owl’s demise. Perhaps that is best. Truth sometimes destroys memories.
I also hold vague recollections of dressing as an owl for Halloween, heavy paper seed corn bag turned inside out, feathers and face colored upon paper, and holes scissored for eyes.
Today my nearest connection to owls comes with the repetitive hoot of a barred owl working the night shift. I have not heard the haunting hoot for some time now. Either the owl is no more or I have slept right through the nocturnal call.
Sometimes it is better to allow memories to linger, like pleasant dreams.
© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling