“Who cooks for you?”

Monday morning. I rush the kids to school, rush to work, rush to prepare for an afternoon class. Realizing that the children’s garden is in dire need of watering, I hop back in my car to drive the short distance between the Visitor’s Center and the nursery, not wanting to waste precious time in walking.

After looping the hose over the garden fence, the unmistakable “Who cooks for you?” call of a barred owl stops me in my tracks. Moments later, a return call follows from deeper in the meadow. Back and forth, the series of hoots continues, punctuated by howls, screeches, and trills. Suddenly, time is less important. I cross the gravel road, peer through a grove of wild cherries, and am rewarded by the hunched silhouette of a large barred owl on a nearby branch.

In our fast-paced world of cars and highways, offices and e-mails, conference calls and computer screens, there exists an alternate reality. A parallel world of owls and foxes, of meadow mice and crickets. Slogging through the daily to-do list sometimes makes me lose sight of this world, even though it’s at the very essence of my job as an environmental educator.

The owls have quieted, moved away. Despite their departure, the day is changed, is full of promise. I latch the garden gate behind me.

by Jenny Houghton
Youth Program Coordinator

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