Notes: In early September, just before fall came, my husband Dave and I started hearing the hooting of an owl above our home. It was a gentle sound, low and soft but still discernible if we stopped everything, scurried to our bedroom window on the top floor of the house, stood quietly in anticipation, and waited.
This was the first time I could remember hearing and recognizing the hoot of an owl. It seems impossible that I’d never heard it before, and yet the sound felt to me as novel as seeing a fairy-tale character in real life. Since then, we’ve heard the owl’s call again several times and but we have not tired of stopping whatever we’re doing, motioning to one another, and whispering “the owl!” (As if it can hear us inside our house and be scared away if we speak too loudly.) And then we listen.
I find the owl’s call comforting. It is out there in the night. A whole world is out there in the night. In our house, there are the sounds of our life, of the human world, of clicking keyboards, of laughing with each other. Too often, from the clouds above, we hear the roar of planes at all hours — not city noise exactly, but an artificial and inescapable rumble.
And then there is this tiny yet strong sound reminding us that alongside the human world and alongside the thrumming of machines we have created, there is the web of all life, sending out thousands of sounds and signals around us every day and into the night, struggling to coexist and to continue, despite the din.