“We now return you to your regularly scheduled program…”

Ever since I moved to the Silver Lake area in Los Angeles late last summer, I’ve enjoyed watching the various representatives of the local wildlife go on about their respective bits of business.  I greatly miss the large Raven population in my former West Hollywood ‘hood, but there have been some compensating positive additions here in Silver Lake to help soothe that sense of loss, including occasional sightings of Hawks, Skunks, and Raccoons, and the ever-present possibility of spotting a wandering Coyote.  All of this pleases me probably more than I can get across in a simple column here…

Sadly, though, after I returned home from my trip to Joshua Tree National Park about a month ago, it was like all the nearby wildlife went off on vacation, en masse.  I got busy, admittedly, what with the big holidays, a few separate bouts with different illnesses, I went out of town again, and then I received visitors here…but even when I did stop to look about for some friendly fauna, I didn’t seem to see so much as a single bird paddling its way across the sky at sunset.  I’d had a fantastic trip to Joshua Tree, but I began to worry that maybe I’d somehow overstimulated and burned out my connection to the forces of nature while there, if such a thing is even possible…

Yesterday, though, was like the day that all the local wildlife returned from that group vacation, punched back in, and settled back into place to get busy for the New Year.

First, the little neighborhood Cat.  I have no idea if this little character is female or male, but I believe it might be feral, as it bears no collar, and is incredibly skittish.  I’ve mentioned her/him in this space before, as the little feline likes using the stone runoff alleyway alongside the house here as a small thoroughfare of sorts to go up and down the steep hill on which this house is built.  With that being the case, I’d often enjoyed these synchronous moments in which I’d be in the kitchen, and my little furry friend would appear just outside the window…and being all feral/skittish, she/he would freeze for a moment, all goggle-eyed at me, and would then bolt out of sight without leaving so much as an afterimage.  However, I hadn’t seen the Cat in something like two months before yesterday, and I’d started to fear for her/his wellbeing.  It was with great joy, though, that she/he finally made a welcome return just outside the window of my upstairs bathroom, prowling around rather loudly in the crisp foliage that blankets the hillside there.  No more than maybe five or six feet separated us, but the Cat wasn’t aware of my presence due to all the crunching of dead leaves and branches it was generating.  I watched for a while, impressed as always with the natural grace of the feline, and then we both went on our ways…

I've never been able to snap a picture of "my" Cat, but it looks vaguely like this, if maybe a bit smaller...and she/he is back!!
I’ve never been able to snap a picture of “my” Cat, but if I did, it would look vaguely like this…and she/he is back!!

And then the second development…was more like a quick series of developments occurring right on top of each other.  I went up the ladder to the rooftop at sunset, as I tend to do as often as possible, although to repeat what I was saying above, every such trip I’d managed to make during the last month had resulted in me mostly watching the clouds and the setting sun, as no wildlife was anywhere to be found (well…there were occasional insects — don’t want to shortchange them! — but not much of the larger creatures I tend to watch for).  Last night, though, was different, and even more than a return to form!

It began with several waves of birds washing across the sky off to my right.  As fall had changed to winter, this had been a more than common sight — in fact, I’d come to expect this nightly airborne commute.  In recent weeks, though…nothing.  I’d assumed that all the local avian population had simply reached their winter homes for the year, and I’d have to wait until springtime set in so I could catch them on the move again.  Last night, though, yielded up several distinct formations of them, all heading in the same direction.  One grouping was so large I couldn’t even count them all, although it definitely exceeded the two dozen mark.

After the last wing-beating straggler disappeared beyond the trees that loom over my house…a pair of Hummingbirds zoomed by to my left.  They were moving at high speed, and their wings were just arcs of blur on either side of their small bodies.  Hummingbirds always cheer me, and seeing what I presumed was a mated pair zooming along together had plenty of that effect (and especially after the return of the Cat and a showing of birds after long absences…).  But the evening wasn’t done yet…

The grand finale came in the form of one more return…that of the Owl!

Not the Owl that I saw, and not my photo...but "my" Owl was about as silent and motionless in flight last night as this picture is being right now...(photo by Hans-Jörg Hellwig)...
Not the Owl that I saw, and not my photo…but “my” Owl was about as silent and motionless in flight last night as this picture of an Owl is being right now…(photo by Hans-Jörg Hellwig)…

As I’ve discussed here before, I’d been thrilled on three separate occasions in the late summer/early fall to spy what I took to be the same Owl leaving the trees behind the houses here, and setting off like a ghost across the little valley that separates us from the corresponding hillside across the way.  I’d never had such a personal glimpse of a nighttime hunter like that before, and had actually felt a little awestruck by it, and a lot privileged to bear witness.  I’d then been kind of depressed that no further repetitions had followed, and as the weeks of no sightings turned into months, I’d all but given up hope, and had resigned myself to just being grateful to have enjoyed the few sightings that had occurred for me…  But then last night, not long after the Hummingbirds had disappeared over my left shoulder, I caught sight of this rather majestic shape gliding across the blazing magenta sunset…  This time, the Owl was heading in the opposite direction from what I’d seen last season, and was a bit farther away, but I had enough light to know what I was seeing, and that elegant, effortless glide was again on stunning display.  It was a real thrill for me, and I felt like “Wildlife” or “Nature” as a whole was welcoming me back as its audience.

I’ve maintained in multiple posts here that I believe the Universe talks to us — to all of us.  The thing is that this communication happens in different ways, depending on who each of us is.  The Universe will use different symbols, different language, different patterns for communicating with me than it will use with you — the trick is to come to understand which of the many possible methods and sets of symbols it is using with you.  I’ve come to believe that with me, one of the delivery systems it uses to send messages to me, personally…is through Animals.  I’d been kind of dismayed at their absence since I got back from Joshua Tree, unsettled by the silence…and I was kind of overjoyed that the discussion seemed to have resumed yesterday.  I’ll be watching and listening avidly now…and meanwhile, I also suggest that anyone reading this might give some thought to what their own channels of chatter with the Universe might be.  It’s always a conversation well worth having!

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