This morning as I was taking my walk down our long dirt road in the woods of western Maine, a barred owl soundlessly swooped out the the trees. I wouldn’t have known it was there (owls don’t make sound when they fly–click here to find out why) except it flew right down the center of the road ahead of me for a good eighth of a mile. It’s always a magical and unusual moment when a barred owl appears out of nowhere. I was inspired to OWL GIRL years ago as I listened to the haunting sound of the barred owl through screened windows at night. From that sound grew the story of a homesick girl named Holly who also hears the lonely call of the owl at night, but, while I stay in bed daydreaming, Holly decides the owl is calling just to her and that it’s her job to find him. Even if Gram forbids her from exploring the woods alone.
Here’s the passage in OWL GIRL when eight-year-old Holly first sees “her” owl.
“…she sensed something deep in the woods. She didn’t see it or hear it. She felt it in the air–something moving, like a whispery cloud. Or a ghost. She turned her head left and right, looked high and low, and saw only a flicker of leaves. She slowly turned her head again. Large shadowy wings were rising and falling, rising and falling, then disappearing up, over, and beyond the trees.”
I’ve been stuck lately on a manuscript I’m working on and tempted to chuck the whole thing. Seeing the owl this morning and going back to find that passage in OWL GIRL reminds me both of the pleasure and the challenge of finding the right words to express myself. It also gave me the gentle nudge to get me back to work!