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In the midmost darkness of the night, from the deep pine-canopied woods beyond the stream that passes through the acre of land on which I reside, comes a brusque Whoooop! backed up by the low-pitched humming of tree frogs. At early dawn, before the fog has lifted from the small, stone-lined clearing behind the house, there is a growl, a Krroooo!, an instinctual and aggressive reverberation, a warning to those who dare to prowl near the nest.
I imagine the mother flailing her tiger-striped wings as she releases a cold shriek, like that of a little girl watching an old Lon Chaney film. Aaaaarhh! Her heart is thumping, her carnelian eyes dense and tight with anger. Whaaaarrrk! She moves swiftly—before her nestlings are taken as banquet by hungry moonlighters. She doesn't breathe. She swoops down and grabs the startled weasel, crushing him with her tense talons, until he can breathe no more.
The fierce bloodletting of mother's strike prompts a silent interlude. Not even the peeping chorus of the ashy tree frogs can be heard.
And then a moist, early morning zephyr blows through. Sweet Pepperbush and fern sway in its breath. The mother calmly rests with her babes in a feather-lined crib of twigs she swindled from a pesky squirrel. Ho-ho hoo!
Breathe, owl, breathe.
Wild creatures are in retrograde. All is safe in the forest again.
Does threat ever truly retreat?
The wilds have their own melody and pitch.
Breath Owl Breathe sings their tune. Ho-ho, hoo!