“It is good to have an end to journey toward;
but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
– Ernest Hemingway
We had no business going out…
This weekend’s calendar was bursting at the seams with homework, science projects, basketball games, holiday baking commitments, orchestra practice, scout merit badge requirements, and several not-to-be-missed holiday gatherings. Tis the season, right??
Oh, and on top of all that, for the third weekend in a row, I promised myself I was not going to leave the house again until my little guy’s cub scout badges were sewn on his uniform. He’s been waiting for.. oh, about 6 months. No “Mommy of the Year” award for me this year. Sorry, little Marky.
But Kevin (my middle son) and I went out anyway and I’ll sew the scout badges on tonight. (I pinky promise!) I heard that a northern saw-whet owl had been seen in the area. It was my ‘hook bird’ (for all non-birders– you can probably guess. It’s the bird that got me hooked on birding) almost 30 years ago. I was eager to have my son, Kevin, see the owl and experience the same ‘jaw drop’ that I did when I first stared one of these little guys square in the eyes. My hubby, Paul, gave us the green light and off we went on Kevin’s first owl prowl. Everything else would have to wait.
We searched for a couple hours, but, alas… no owl. The photo of the northern saw-whet owl above is the actual bird that had been seen where we were. But no luck for us this time. For those of you unfamiliar with this owl, it sits about 8″ tall and it wins a *double* award for the bird most likely to be confused with a Christmas ornament and most likely to be called “cute.” I try to refrain from describing birds with anthropomorphic terms, but without apology, I make an exception for this one. 🙂
We were of course disappointed that we didn’t find the coveted bird, but fortunately, we did find several VERY cool treats during our owl prowl that seemed equally interesting to Kevin. Check these out:
Left to right: Common Puffball or Gem-studded Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum), tracks from wild turkeys scratching and feeding in the pine needles, owl white wash with an owl pellet (definite evidence that a saw-whet was there recently).
And Kevin’s most exciting discovery of all (especially for a pre-teen boy) was this skull. I’m guessing it’s a fox skull.
So the journey was a fruitful one, despite us not finding the treasured owl. I’ll admit that the skull, puffball, turkey tracks and white wash are not even a fraction as adorable as the saw-whet. But as I watched Kevin take photo after photo of the skull, I realized how much he was truly relishing his unexpected find.
There will definitely be more journeys like this one in the near future. Stay tuned, as next time we do hope to find that coveted Christmas ornament sitting in the tree.
But until then, this trip was a clear reminder to me.
The real treasure is often found in the journey itself.