As I jogged my usual route through the varied forest landscape of Tiger Mountain yesterday, I was pleased to hear the soothing sounds of a barred owl call as I began my third mile through the ‘Adventure Trail’. I paused on the trail when I first heard it, pulled out my phone, and was lucky to catch it on video when it happened again. My only thought was, ‘ooh, the boys will think this is so cool.’
I continued up the trail, headphones off to better pay attention to my surroundings. My brief forays through the forest are both physical and spiritual exercise, and I try to savor each moment. I paused as usual at the top of the hill to take some deep breaths and soak in the forest bath around me. Feeling charged and full of energy, I set off down the other side as usual.
This is my favorite part of my run route. It’s downhill, but not steep. It’s a deep, dark forest that feels inviting and mysterious and alive. And today it very much was.
I screamed like a banshee when the owl first hit my head from behind. The first feeling was the shock and the initial jolt of the strike, followed closely by the sting of the talons. Pure instinct spurred me into a sprint, and then I paused and looked behind me to see if I could catch a glimpse of what I now felt sure was an owl. That’s when she hit me again!
At that point I hit the deck, scrambled around until I found a large stick, and proceeded to run the rest of the way out of the forest waving it around my head like a crazy person until I reached the parking lot.
It was totally one of those super scary moments that after the fact, when you realize that everything is fine, feels like the coolest experience ever. Like skydiving.
I felt alive and energized. I felt like I had been blessed by the forest, anointed by an owl.
My first thoughts were of Athena, Greek goddess of war, wisdom and courage. Often in myth she is accompanied by an owl. I also thought about the why. Was this owl a mother, defending her beloveds from a too-close human?
I decided I’m accepting both of those. A fellow mother, messenger from the forest, my ‘church’, was reminding me about wisdom, courage, and protecting my own dear ones.
Last night was my first night alone during my new marital ‘separation’. Neither of us knows yet what exactly that means, but it was strange and felt like an important moment. I had imagined that night as a super lonely and sorrowful place. But instead I lay there gently feeling the scratches on my head, thinking about my experience, knowing that whatever the trail ahead might hold, I will be brave and keep running.
With a giant stick if I have to.
The adventure trail really lived up to her name this time through!