One warm July night twenty-three years ago my husband woke me from a deep sleep telling me I had to get out of bed and walk up the street with him. It was almost midnight. He’d gone for a late-night walk, probably contemplating the enormous change that was going to happen within a few weeks when he would become a father. I told him I didn’t want to go for a walk. I was tired. I just wanted to sleep. He insisted I get up and go with him and said I’d be glad he woke me up but I had to hurry.
So I dragged my heavily pregnant body out of the comfort of my bed, put on a pair of shoes and followed him out the door and up the street. We walked about half a block when he turned into a driveway. I said he was crazy — we didn’t know these people and now we were going to trespass on their property? He didn’t listen and walked further up the driveway. Then he stopped and pointed. I looked in the direction of where he was pointing and didn’t see anything at first, but then I saw what he was pointing at. It was an owl sitting on a fence post.
I’d only ever seen one or two owls in my lifetime before this one and was indeed glad he woke me up to see the owl. We continued staring at it, wondering why it was in this neighbor’s yard. Then I understood. It was a plastic owl nailed to a fence post to keep other birds away.
I could have thanked my husband and gone back to bed, but I was 8 and a half months’ pregnant and he’d just awoken me from one of my last full-nights’ sleep in who knew how long so I could look at a plastic owl in a stranger’s back yard at 11:30 at night. No, I didn’t thank him, I told him it was a plastic owl and I was going back to bed.
About a year ago I walked into our bathroom and looked out the window that faces our back yard. Our back yard sees lots of bird-life and I see a fair number of birds while doing my business in the bathroom. This day I was surprised and excited to see an owl sitting on the back-door neighbors’ house. I squinted at the owl for a while then ran to get my binoculars. Yeah, it was an owl all right. It was a plastic owl they’d attached to the glass roof over the door of their office probably to keep birds from pooping on the roof.
Of course this owl reminded me of the owl from the summer our daughter was born. But you know something? Every single time for months when I’d look out the bathroom window my heart did a little flip-flop thinking it was an owl. Then I’d remember the other owl and smile. Lately I no longer think it is a real owl, but I still smile at how happy my husband was the night he thought he found me an owl.