Excerpt: Chapter 13 – Baby

My buddy, Mark, and I, pulled by the gravity of exploration, ambled along the seam between the cultivated field and the wildness of the woods.

Feathery clouds filtered the afternoon sunlight as spring wrestled with summer and I gazed into the trees. Suddenly, it appeared in the dappled light. “Stop!” I yelled in a whisper. My steady stare and slight nod guided Mark toward my discovery. “Look at that owl about fifteen feet up that big oak tree!”

We stood motionless, trapped between reality and disbelief, as the owl sat motionless on a branch the size of a man’s thigh. It felt like a game of chicken to see who would move first. We stood our ground, mesmerized by our first daylight sighting of an owl. We expected it to launch from its perch and fly deeper into the woods. But the longer we stood still, the longer owl remained stationary.

This act of defiance begged to be challenged. We crept closer. Dead leaves crunched under our feet as we anticipated the silent explosion of flight. But the owl never even blinked….

I hollered through the open kitchen window when I arrived home, “Mom! I’ve got something to show you.” I felt like a cat bringing a mouse home to its owner. Always eager for a new discovery, Mom opened the aluminum storm door and stepped out on to the patio as the door banged closed behind her.

“What is it?” she inquired.

“It’s an owl; a Great Horned Owl, I think. It doesn’t look healthy.” I leaned to the right to gently let the sack slide off my shoulder, then set it softly on the ground. As I slowly opened the top of the burlap bag, I cast my transgression in the best light possible. “It fell out of a tree and I didn’t want to leave it there alone.”

Mom peered inside the dark bag, then…looked off into the distance momentarily before looking back at the baby in the bag.

“No, I don’t think the momma will take it back,” she replied, a bit of sadness in her voice. “It would probably die, even if we had a way to get it back up into its nest.”

“Well, then we just need to take care of it ourselves,” I announced.

With that pronouncement, Mom and I were a team on a mission.

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