You know how when you have multiple deadlines and are under stress, and it suddenly becomes imperative to declutter the kitchen – a job that has been looming for about, oh, two years – and rewrite the prologue to the novel you’ve been closeting in the cellar since 2004? That’s where I am today. It’s deadline city here at Charlotte’s Web – one project handed in this morning, another due tomorrow and another on Friday, some more next week, on and on until the end of the year. I’m thrilled to be busy and earning money, don’t get me wrong, but why do I choose this moment to need to clean out the knife drawer and throw out all the Tupperware lids that no longer have containers to match?
Anyway, while I was working very hard to avoid my work, some real distraction flew in, some genuine, not-to-missed procrastination action. It’s as if the Procrastination God just took pity me. Look at her, he said from his plump pillows, look at her messing about with rubber bands and cleaning cloths, it’s a bit pathetic really. Let’s send her something that will keep her staring out the window all afternoon in an open-mouthed daze so that tonight is a tense and horrible all-nighter. And to keep her at it, let’s make it something so fabulous that she’ll have to blog about it too, thus wasting even more time.
Dear readers, when I returned from collecting a Kind from Kindergarten (in the pouring rain, with wet shoes and a slight temper), I glanced out of my kitchen window to see not one, not two, not even three, but six (SIX! you hear me cry) European Eagle owls roosting in the pine tree opposite. I am watching six Uhus, folks, about six metres away from me. It being sleep-time, they aren’t up to much. There’s a bit of wing shaking going on, a bit of stretching and preening and head twisting. But most of the time the team are asleep.
I know these babies. We think they were born in the two pine trees in the bottom of our garden that our delightful neighbours asked to have chopped down. On dusky evenings we’d watch them cavort and play on the lawn, all squeaky with excitement, and then they’d be off with the parents for a bit of hunting school. Two summers have passed with no owl visits, until my friend from Dubai – who was also visiting that summer we got to know our owl babies – arrived last week. She and I enjoyed a lovely evening owl show, of swooping and prancing. We counted what we thought to be eight owls, but since they kept heading off on laps around the neighbourhood we were never completely sure how many.
I now confirm, dear friend from Dubai, that there are six owls. It’s autumn now, and they have returned to the garden of their birth to settle down and make some babies of their own. If you come back next summer, there’ll be more owl shows for you to watch. And luckily some of my other neighbours have lots of lovely trees for them to roost in. Maybe they’ll lay their eggs right here in front of my kitchen window.
If I didn’t have a hallway to declutter, a prologue to finish and a deadline to meet, I’d google me some connections between owls and the Romans (there was once a Roman temple where our house and garden now stand) and toss in a few literary flourishes for your amusement. But I really have to go and work. If any of you want to do that for me, I’d be so grateful, because right now I’m dragging these fingernails right off WordPress, saying good-bye to you and to my beautiful owl babies.