We stared at each other for a minute while I held my breath. I'd seen a screech owl in the oak tree in our backyard before, but never had been this close. I gently closed the door far enough to turn the inside light off, but didn't shut it all the way. He had to lift his foot to keep from getting it caught, yet still, he didn't leave. I backed away a few feet and watched him for a while before going in.
Those few minutes were extraordinary. Being in such close proximity to something wild makes my heart race. Not in fear, but sheer delight. Growing up in the country, I saw many of God's beautiful creatures up close, but today, those types of encounters are more rare. The owl took up residence in the oak tree and for years, I'd sit on the back deck and search the branches for him. I'd always find him. One year, there were no sightings, which worried me. None the next, or the next. Finally, I stopped looking for him.
This spring, I was in the laundry room when I glanced out the window and saw two familiar eyes staring back at me from the fig tree. I don't know how long screech owls live, so I don't know if this was my old Friend or a new one. But I grabbed my camera and took a couple of shots through the window pane. Isn't he beautiful?