Monday, December 12, 2011

THE OWL by Debby Ogg

It had been one of those long, exhausting days. There had been several emergencies, people needing assistance immediately, and more than one at a time. It had been the stuff that nightmares are made of, and I had wished to replicate myself or just be able to bi-locate to meet all the needs. But now the day was almost done; just one more visit to make.

It was nearing dusk in late Spring. I raced down the office stairs, knowing I was late for my next appointment. The air was cool, misty, and the peepers were singing their songs. I opened the windows of the car, took a moment for the car to warm up, and inhaled the intoxicating perfume of moist soil and lilac. Senses heightened and brightened, the rhythm of the day slowed down. The sense of urgency evaporated, and driving well below the speed limit, I was open to each sight, each sound, as I crossed the Reservoir bridge.

It was only a hundred feet or so later, that I saw what I thought was a large wing sticking up in the road. My breath caught in my throat. I feared it was an injured hawk. I slowed down to a crawl, not wanting to startle it if it still was alive. I pulled off the road, as much as I could, and jumped out of the car. I hadn’t a thought in my mind. It wasn’t a hawk. It was an owl, lying on its side, its large three-foot wing at an angle in the air.

At that moment, a man came running across the road. He was babbling about how he hadn’t seen the bird, that it had swooped down in front of him, and that he tried to avoid hitting him, but he had. He clearly felt terrible, but his presence seemed to disappear as I approached the bird from behind. It wasn’t moving. Very large, brown and white, I wasn’t certain if it was dead or alive. I placed my hands over him, hovering just a few inches above his body, and felt my hands pulsating. I prayed. I asked Creator to help this suffering creature. I imagined the sweetest love pouring through my hands into his body, into his mind and spirit. I was there for minutes when I felt the need to see him fully.

I moved around to be in front of him, and crouched down. At first I noticed his talons, which were larger than my hands. I looked up into his face, and it was only then that I realized that he was alive. His eyes were bright yellow, very round, blinking slowly, and so very beautiful. He was so very beautiful. He was breathing; he was not struggling. I put my hands over him again, pouring energy into him. I used my breath to connect with the energy all around me, and my hands, hot and electrified, were transmitting it to him. He wasn’t frightened. I don’t know how he communicated that to me, but he did. He took in everything given to him. I felt transported into the world of his spirit.

It was then that a DEC officer pulled up behind me. She was asking me to leave the scene. I hadn’t realized that there was traffic stopped in both directions. She was brusque and she was frightening. I begged her to take care with him, to bring him to Heinz Meng in New Paltz, a raptor rehabber. She said she had orders to follow, and they were none of my concern, and again insisted that I leave, right then.

Reluctantly, very reluctantly, I left. I never found out what happened to the owl. I was so touched by our moments together, by the way his eyes looked at me, which felt so much like the way I was looking at him, in appreciation, in sadness. It was one of those once in a lifetime encounters. Every day since, I see his face. I pray for his safety wherever he may be. May it be so.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

LOYALTY by Nina Garnham

My mother was every advertiser’s dream because of her unwavering brand loyalty. Here are her brands:

Lucky Strike cigarettes
Tide laundry detergent in powder form
Crest toothpaste
Wonder Bread
Thomas’ English Muffins
Breck Shampoo
Palmolive dish soap
Mr. Clean
Maxwell House Coffee
Manishevitz Matzoh’s
Pontiac cars
Minute Maid frozen orange juice
Welch’s Grape Jelly
Skippy Peanut Butter, creamy only
Ritz Crackers

During her lifetime, she only changed a few things. She quit smoking. She stopped buying Wonder Bread. And she started driving Toyotas. Otherwise, her shopping list, a close-knit family, stuck together like lint in the clothes dryer.

My mother demanded complete loyalty according to her strict definitions. When she visited an apartment I had when I was in my early twenties and saw Colgate toothpaste in the bathroom, she took it as a personal affront. “Nina, how could you?” she wondered aloud.

Relatives had to conform to her ideas of loyalty or else she was likely to cut off all communication. Neighbors too. No one could criticize her parents, her brother, or her Uncle Milton. She would enforce these Cold War developments with other family members:

My father was not to see or call his only brother;
We weren’t supposed to call Aunt Florrie or Uncle Joe;
Helen and Zigmunt were out;
We weren’t supposed to go inside Mary Ligouri’s apartment in 2D anymore.

The reasons for these silences were usually unknown to us kids.

I was not immune from the threat of excommunication. “When you were little, you’d go off with anybody,” Mom often lamented, afraid of her 4-year-old’s possible disloyalty so early on. It terrified her.