#30 I, Isabel Scheherazade have a conversation with Mom about the mysterious tracks in Mimi’s dirt garden, and I pull a way-back-seat memory into the front seat while I work through a front-seat puzzle. Olivia’s right: This IS a good thing, keeping the connection with the “deceased” as she calls them.
What happened ?
Look for clues, you say?
Well, on either side of the last set of prints I see feather-like marks.
An owl, you think? Owls hunt at night.
But how come the mouse didn’t hear it and hide?
Suddenly my mind’s eye sees Mom and me on our back porch early this past summer. We’re hooting back and forth with a Barred Owl, trying to lure him in closer. A humongous moon hangs behind our trees. I peel an orange, and Mom sips tea.
We hear WHO COOKS FOR YOUUUUU– WHO COOKS FOR YOU ALLLL, then we hoot WHO COOKS FOR YOUUUUU–WHO COOKS FOR YOU ALLLL and wait for the owl to answer. The hoots get louder and louder as it comes closer and closer. Finally, it swoops in and perches on a low limb of the apple tree at the edge of our yard. We keep really quiet and watch it look around for the other owl.
I whisper to Mom. Those big wings are so silent.
She whispers into my ear. Owls don’t make the usual wing sounds that you hear most other birds make. I smell the wild berry tea on her breath. It tickles my ear. Mom wiggles her fingers to show how the wings work. They have these soft, loose edges on their flight feathers so they can sneak up on prey.
The Mom and me memory fades. I stare at the mouse tracks and the feathery marks. I see what happened now. I talk out loud again.
So. The owl comes up behind the mouse who doesn’t hear him, half-lands right here, scuffs the dirt on either side of the mouse with its wings, grabs it with its talons, and flies off to eat it.
I sigh. The little mousie got stopped dead in its tracks.
As soon as I say this I go into, like, total SHOCK.
Mom used the phrase “stopped dead in its tracks” a few days after we call in the owl. We’re peering over the porch railing watching a spider trap a Monarch butterfly in its web. The butterfly struggles to get free as the spider wraps it in silk.
I cry, and Mom tells me, Yes, it’s sad, Isabel. She holds my hand. This Monarch got stopped dead in its tracks, but it’s all part of nature.
Standing here in the Dirt Garden, I think, Mom, you and Dad got stopped dead in your tracks too.
Only that sure wasn’t part of nature.
Isabel Scheherazade, dirt-raker and nature sleuth