Something disturbed my slumber. I stirred and heard a layered cacophony– a rich, raucous nighttime noise drifting in through our window, along with the chilly autumn air. What is that? I wondered blearily. Beneath my nest of blankets, I turned toward Kurt, sensing he, too, was awake.
“What’s that?” I murmured.
“Coyotes, I think,” he whispered. “Did you hear the owl, too?”
Oh, I thought, in surprise. I did.
With Kurt’s words, the sounds had shifted in my memory. I had heard the owl, but hadn’t quite realized it. It was like one of those moments when you don’t quite hear what someone says, and you ask,”What?”, and then, right as they answer, you realize you actually did hear their words, but it just took a second for them to come together in your mind. The owl’s call, closer to the house, had floated on the wave of coyote revelry. I knew it was there, or knew something was there, like a flavor or scent I couldn’t quite identify. Altering the whole experience, subtle but significant. Now it all fell into place.
We laid still and listened intently. Captivated. The ruckus didn’t last long. The coyotes carried their revelry further afield or simply quieted. The night slipped back into silence.
Then the owl called again. One long, low “hooooooot.”
Clear and true. A gift or a farewell.
Or perhaps both.
Slowly, contentedly, I closed my eyes and fell back asleep.