A couple of days ago, Rosalyn came running in from the front porch saying, “Dad, dad, come quick!” I ran outside with here and looked to my right to see a baby owl perched on our porch rail, staring right at us, and appearing to be perfectly at peace. After a mutual and friendly exchange of looks, Evan wanted to get closer. I grew up on a ranch and have seen a lot of wildlife in various stages of growth – from birth all the way to death. But I’ve never seen or been this close to a baby owl, so I was a little apprehensive about letting him get too close. Those talons were sharp, and that beak looked lethal! But beyond clacking his beak a couple of times, it never demonstrated the least bit of fear. We were all fascinated and stayed with our new owl friend for a good half hour. Lauren dubbed him “Herbert, son of Hooty and Hazel” the two permanent residents of the hollowed out tree in our neighbor’s front yard.
Finally, Lauren, Ros, and Evan went back inside, and I was left alone with Herbert. He jumped/flew over to the small pecan in front of the porch, and then sailed down to the flower bed. His mom (I think it was Hazel) flew in to perch above him. I thought, how in the world is he going to launch off the ground and get all the way up to his mom? Well, he didn’t fly – he climbed! I’ve never seen an owl climb a tree before, but, as you can see, Herbert is quite the little Owl-sherpa! Glad I was there to witness it, and to share it with you.
It made me wonder about the relationship between innocence and wisdom. Neither Herbert nor Evan are mature enough to have attained the kind of wisdom based on experience, but their shared innocence can instruct those of us who cherish wisdom. We can learn that there’s something precious, and fearless, and welcoming in the unfettered curiosity of those who have yet to be burned. While I don’t want to be naive in my exploration of new things, neither do I want to lose the childlike innocence, and that primal impulse to embrace the unfamiliar, to welcome it and to share the wonder of a new discovery.