The Owl

It’s strange how some random moments can pull your mind right back to where it should be and remind you what life should be about.

It was Saturday. I was a single parent for the morning with my two year old daughter Gem. I decided around mid-morning to go out for a walk around our large complex with her. It’s always fun for us to spot lizards, cats and look at dogs behind fences. Little things along the walk have become like rituals. We have to stop at the house where the Mickey Mouse garden ornament is so that she can observe it and say hello. We have to jump up and down on the storm drain covers so they make a noise. We have to wave at ourselves in the convex mirror that guides vehicles around the corner.

On this morning I noticed a commotion of birds in a particular tree above a roof. I pointed and told Gem to listen to the birds. As we moved closer though, something much more interesting caught my eye. An owl. There it was, perched on the bottom part of the roof near the gutter. Really? At first I even thought it was a fake, put there by the home owner for some reason or other. But then it turned its head and looked at us. An owl, a matter of metres from us, in broad daylight. It was beautiful and almost mystical, but seemed a little out of place. This was exceptionally rare in South Africa.

I stood with Gem in my arms for ages, as we just stared at it. Gem was fascinated with the way it kept blinking, and she proceeded to imitate it, saying “Owl, blinking, blinking” while she was doing it. I was still fascinated by our luck in discovering it. She smiled at it. I smiled at her. The moment sort of hit me. There we were, just her and I, soaking in this moment with smiles on our faces, observing an owl together that nobody else in the world could see. She talked about it all the way home. When my wife came home both Gem and I couldn’t stop talking about the owl.

Little islands of beauty like this. Moments in life that make the bridges in between the islands seem completely worth the journey, no matter how long.


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