The mountains loomed in a distance behind thin curtains of smoke. I was hoping to catch glimpse of the peaks shimmering in the sunlight, but instead, some mysterious looking clouds closed in around me making everything seem suddenly darker and gloomier than already was. I thought I saw something... or someone. What it looks to me a very mysterious looking woman shrouded in the mist of the first light; amidst the bushes at the end of the garden.
She called out in an unusual terse voice—not as musical as the songs of thrushes and warblers, but certainly the strangulated screech of the Barn Owl; the classic hoot of the night birds…
I was not sure I had even seen her; or heard the call. It could have been anything, but I felt the pull of her vividly colored eyes behind the murky haze-like curtains carried by the early morning wind, and instantly knew…
“Alba?” I inquired. I knew it had to be Alba. I knew it, because I had memorized her distinctive scent… a scent far from any human scent you can imagine; intriguing and subtle yet alluring – a clean, exhilarating and utterly unique fragrance, an everlasting fragrance etched deep in the magical forest of Hollow Woods.
Maybe I should have been afraid? The superstitious villagers of Hollow Woods were convinced that Alba was really not an owl at all. They knew who she was and how she manifested herself. They believe Alba was a witch who snatched little children from their beds at night in the form of an owl…
Hu- huhuhu-hewww... she would taunt the villagers as she flew over their humble cottages and roofs made of tin and dry vegetation; such as straw and rushes.
Alba’s greatest impersonation was the night owl—so said the villagers; she was a flyer of the darkness who hunted the weak. They were terribly afraid of her.
I remembered all these things and wasn’t sure myself… I started to walk towards the dark at the end of the garden and shyly called again: “Are you there, Alba… is that you?”
Usually, the only tell-tale sign of a perched owl will be its vocalizations or its vividly eyes that face forward. But I couldn’t see a thing; or hear a thing.
I knew that the coloration of the owl’s plumage plays a key role in its ability to sit still and blend into the environment, making it nearly invisible to prey. Owls tend to mimic the colorations and sometimes even the texture patterns of their surroundings, and maybe... maybe Alba was watching from somewhere in the garden, camouflaged by the heavy fog? Was she really an owl?
The sounds of the early morning hovered over the garden’s floor as offerings to this strange meeting. “I am here and ready to receive your wisdom.” I said. And there she was as mysterious and lovely as ever and as pure as winter's first snow with feathers of white and beneath dark shadows. She blinked, then lifted her beautiful wings and took off. Circling me three times she came to rest on my shoulder.
It was the sweetest moment. And I'm still somewhat baffled by the lovely Alba... Is she really an owl? Or is she what the villagers of Hollow woods feared her to be? A witch. Some evil impersonator?