New Year’s Portents

And yesterday the bird of night did sit

Even at noon-day upon the marketplace,

Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies

Do so conjointly meet, let not men say,

“These are their reasons. They are natural.”

For I believe they are portentous things

Unto the climate that they point upon.

-Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

 

Writers tend to look at things a little differently than many folks. This universal truth was brought home to me yesterday as I spent the day with my best friend, who is also a writer. It started as we headed out for a day of antique/thrift shopping when we spotted two wood-paneled station wagons pass us, very close together.

“Huh, what are the odds of that?” asked my friend. Seriously, you just don’t see those anymore.

“Well, it’s clearly a sign,” I replied. “This will be an auspicious day, I’m sure.”

After the first antique shop, we decided to stop by a New Year’s open house party, hosted by some of her friends.

“Get a picture of that! Quick!” my friend yelled, pointing out the passenger window past me.

“A picture of what?” I replied, puzzled.

“The owl!”

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There it was, sitting on the ground right under a street sign. Now, everyone knows owls should not be sitting on the ground in the middle of the day, so we went to the party, fully prepared to execute the Great Owl Rescue of 2015 as soon as we begged a large box from the party hosts. Thankfully, the owl was gone when we returned, and I like to think it simply decided to go home. I am banishing all visions of it being carried away in the jaws of a large dog. I just can’t go there.

The story does not end there, however. As we continued to shop, bent on finding treasure squirreled away on a dusty shelf, we started noticing owls everywhere. I would be innocently looking for yet another teapot or some reasonably priced Fiestaware, when there it was: some damned owl knick-knack staring at me. And then another. And another. I stopped counting at 27.

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The entire rack of owl salt-n-pepper shakers at Bed, Bath and Beyond (my friend lovingly refers to it as Bloodbath and Beyond) was really     over the top.

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 I was curious and faintly alarmed, so I Googled owl portents. Death, of course. I thought so, but I wanted to be sure. Actually, while many cultures do view owls as evil harbingers of one kind or another, there are a few that see them as signs of fertility (not that I want that, either!) or good luck. The Greeks thought they accompanied wisdom, which I could definitely use.

So, all in all it was an interesting start to my new year, but what struck me most was that my writer friend and I immediately jumped to the most fantastical conclusions. Most people, the ones who don’t make up stories for a living, would just think, “Huh. That’s a lot of owls in one day.”

On a brighter note, we did find the treasure of the year:

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            Fantastic, I know!

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