NATURE THROUGH WIDE YELLOW EYES by Mariella Hunt

Wise gray owl had watched the sun rise and set countless times, perched on inconspicuous tree branches. With eyes wide open, he observed petty arguments between the sun and the moon as one struggled to climb up the horizon, and the other refused to move.

Owl watched with amusement every time their quarrels became so heated that the sky itself looked tinted with various shades of red, like the blood shed after a sword fight, absorbed by the snow and gradually becoming a dark pink. So it was every night and morning, time and time again. If he so desired, the wise owl could interrupt their quarrels and explain the mechanics of astronomy, but often he found entertainment in their duels.

This owl fell asleep to the whispering of trees. They breathed words he could understand because–unlike most other creatures–he’d sat still throughout many a day, listening and gradually learning their language. They whispered gossip, mostly regarding the happenings of the human world, for a town was situated nearby. Paying attention, the owl noticed how each tree changed her story just a little from the version of the tree before him.

“Oh,” said one, “Miss ___ and Mister ___ were alone in the forest, and he proposed near the old rosebush!”

This story traveled deeper into the forest, from one tree to another, until word had it that Miss ___ and Mister ___ had been found alone behind the old rosebush. The young lady’s furious father then declared he would marry her off to a rich old man, one who (as a side comment) was unlikely to last five more years.

“Soon she’ll be seen wandering the forest in a black mourning dress!” they cried.

These were the tales our owl heard when his eyes grew weary from the sun and moon fighting; though he hid his face beneath his wing, the owl learned a great deal of what was happening in the world.

When he became bored of sitting on the same branch for too long, the owl spread his wings (with a hoot of relief, they could become rather cramped!) and took off. The grounds running below him painted pictures of nature as she raised her head and shielded her eyes from the sun with a fan that was every shade of green. He saw her wave it in the wind so the colors came alive, on occasion very light green, and on others very dark.

The wise owl knew many things, because he had gathered over the years that to do things in a rush made for a terrible waste of time. He knew that all things, even wisdom, grew slowly–one leaf at a time–and when it finally reached its peak, all of nature was enhanced because it took sweet time to open its eyes. As he flew, he did not keep his gaze fixed on the destination, but let his eyes scan the heavens and earth. He took note and analyzed everything he saw. If he were to look only at the tree on which he meant to land, our owl would never see the flower beds or the deer grazing. He would miss out on that beauty, and since he rarely visited the same tree twice, there weren’t second chances.

The young owls waited eagerly for his visit to their nests, knowing the wealth of stories he’d bring with him. Indeed, all of nature listened to hear his voice in the night, for he sang of truth that all of creation craved. The trees in turn corrected their stories; sun and moon quit fighting, as he put them each in their place. Mother Nature stopped waving her fan, so as to not blow away invaluable words.

When the wise owl died, suddenly all was silent. Sun and moon kept peaceful vigil and the trees sighed miserably. Mother Nature quit waving her fan to give this owl one glorious farewell, in which all eyes were on his peaceful body. The rabbits dug him a hole beneath the old rosebush, and a deer nudged him in; the birds sang an elegy, one by one dropping a flower into the hole with him. When all the creatures had paid homage, they filled in the hole and wept.

To this day, young owls aspire to be like him: wise, thoughtful, and caring, never settling for less than the truth, and never failing to notice the treasures on the road to their destination.

He taught them that all things, even wisdom, grow slowly.

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