Sunday, September 18, 2005

Episode 6. Visit to White Owl Island.

I was somewhat excited, and relieved, to have arrived that evening at Dumwash Bay. It had been a long and arduous journey. My "mentor" Sophie had assured me that the period of tough initiation was over, that a more festive period was ahead. She had provided the only diversion and relaxation I had experienced so far, at the Bath House. I was anticipating an R&R at Dumwash Bay to match the experiences I had had already on this incredible journey. However I decided to delay joining the boisterous Gypsy Camp roustering nearby. To join them at this point in their revelries, in spite of the welcoming vibes that had drifted my way, seemed akin to arriving sober at a University Engineering Ball when it had obviously been underway for some time. So I slept beneath a sycamore tree. A sound dream-free sleep.

Next morning I awoke early, and as I surmised, the Gypsy Camp was silent. A few cards and discarded pieced of clothing scattered around testified to their riotous evening. The ashes of their bonfire were cold. I was correct...a night of carousing had dampened and silenced them. Obviously they were evening people. I, on the other hand, since I had entered this parallel world, had become a morning person. As I said, it was a time of strange happenings.

Idling its motor at a pier I hadn't noticed the previous evening, was the prototype of a catamaran. Painted white with the morning dew still clinging. Sophia was at the helm, waiting, as if she knew I would be there.

" Come on now" she said. and intimated that I should join her. " We are going to White Owl Island."
Not commenting on the inappropriate motor, just glad not to be paddling again, I hopped in. Again she had provided a much needed meal...this time smoked salmon in scrambled eggs on Potato rosti. This was a guide after my own heart! The craft cut a suprising speed through the swell and across the lake to a small island. No habitation was visible. Cutting the motor, we drifted in . All was silence as we approached.

"He sleeps during the day", she said. "It's the only time you can observe him. " Noone really knows where he goes each night". I thought of the two owls who occasionally spent their day on a limb of my magnolia grandifolia...heads tucked in and perfectly blended with the tree trunk. And then, rarely, the powerful owls who swooped after dark from the trees nearby craning to see if the fluffy maltese I was walking was dinner fodder. Sometimes, in the early hours of the morning, I could hear their mating calls. But White Owls: that would be a novelty.

We followed a path which wound around the island, sometimes through stands of dense foliage and at other times open woodland. As we climbed, the sun rose higher and the ocean sparkled when we were able to catch a glimpse. We paused for breath under a rocky overhang.

" Look up!" Sophia whispered. There, carved into the face of the cliff , was a very large representation of an Owl. White, because of the white granite into which it was carved which underpinned the summit of the island. It was majestic, beautiful and indeed, old. The myriad of paintings and messages posted in a nearby sheltered glade showed this to be a place of pilgrimage. I then understood that those who make the journey to Dumwash Bay would be wise to pay their respects to the White Owl. In fact, expected to do so. Remembering some similar Shinto traditions, I clapped my hands to alert his spirit to my presence, bowed, and clapped my departure. In silence, reflecting on what this morning had brought to me, we retraced our steps to the boat.

The Great White Owl
Looked out to sea.
He seemed so wise,
Would he whisper to me?

Words of wisdom?
Words of love?
A conduit of messages
From those above?

Perhaps admonishment
To bring a tear.
Perhaps intimations
Of disaster or fear.

I wanted, implored him
To speak to me,
The sectrets of life
And eternity.

But implaccably silent
Never shifted his gaze.
His message of stillness,
And silence, each day.


At 2:00 AM, Blogger Heather Blakey said...

Such a wonderful narrative that helps to paint a portrait of this world. I am very taken with you idea of the Owl being a carving. Indeed one of the sketches I had in mind was an entrance to a cave in the shape of an owl. Above all it is the Owl's silence I respect. No simple glib messages provided here.

At 3:56 AM, Blogger Imogen Crest said...

I found this wonderful to read, and agree with the owl image as a powerful one...

At 7:40 PM, Blogger Fran said...

I have enjoyed returning and reading you again.


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