Fate found the owl.
We were walking in the woods and I saw her sniffing something on the ground. That’s not unusual, it goes on constantly on our walks. Sometimes she smells something that I can’t and there is nothing for me to see either. Often she’ll mark the spot before leaving it.
If Fate and Zinnia spend time together noses to the ground, they are most likely eating deer or coyote scat.
I don’t know why I went to look when Fate stopped at the owl. I couldn’t see it from where I was. Sometimes I think Fate communicates with me in ways I’m not conscious of. But I hear her just the same.
The dead owl blended so well with the last years leaves and pine needles, I might not have seen it even if I walked right by it.
The owl was face down, the wings spread out on either side, the head and body in tact. I could see bloody bones sticking out from the joint in both wings, and there were drops of blood on a log nearby.
I stood for some time just looking.
I was entranced by the pattern, texture and colors of the feathers. Short and downy on the head and neck. Longer but still soft looking with mottled browns, blacks, grays and whites on the part of the wing closest to the body. And on the part of the wings that were furthest from the body the feathers seemed almost as big as the owl itself. The patten well defined, bold stripes with long strong quills.
The owl was big just under three feet from wing to wing.
That’s how I remember it anyway.
I looked without touching. I peered under the owls head and saw a cloudy opaque reddish brown eye. I don’t know what the front of the owl’s body looked like. I couldn’t see the owls feet.
I wondered what had caused the owl to die and land on the ground in this strangely beautiful position.
I felt like I should do something, but I didn’t know what. I placed a broken fern on her back, but then took it off again. I stood over her for a moment and cleared my mind in a silent prayer.
I thought of taking feather, but it felt like stealing so I didn’t. I’ll return, I thought to myself, in a few days and see if anyone has eaten the carcass.
Now I’m curios to see what her feet look like. How big they are, how long the claws, the texture of the skin. I wonder about her beak.
Fate and Zinnia stood by me the whole time, neither of them disturbing the owl anymore than I did. “Come on dogs,” I said as I walked away from the owl. And this time they actually listened and followed me up the hill.
When I go back, if there are any feathers on the ground, I’ll take one.