, Newburyport, MA


December 28, 2012

In the eyes of an owl

Nature provided a special treat for walkers on Hay Street Christmas day in the somber presence of a barn owl.

Together with undoubtedly many others, I had never seen a barn owl on Newbury’s Hay Street, let alone a showoff that was perfectly content to just sit there on a bare limb, some 25 feet above the road bed, apparently enjoying the holiday by making note of passers-by.

“Merry Christmas,” I said.

He turned his head to look at me and blinked.

I had no idea then of what was on his mind, but I blinked back just as two young women came from the other direction and I pointed toward the owl.

One gasped with pleasure as they moved closer to him.

He blinked twice with what looked to me to be only one eye.

Show time, I thought.

If so, he was off to other venues on Wednesday, and only the two swans were on display at the far center reach of Quill’s Pond, the rest of it having been covered by an inch of snow on the thinnest of ice.

The Peking ducks are wintering in, and the swans will be shortly.

Surely, I thought as I made my way to the bridge, there will be a heavy snow cover this winter.

The thought was enriched a half mile on.

Upstream of Little River, there was no sign of ice. Downstream, it was covered with the thinnest of coats awaiting the turning of the tide.

It was eerily quiet. No road traffic — nothing but silence across the broad reach of the marsh to the upper pasture and the hills beyond where naked tree limbs reach skyward in an apparent plea for heavy winter coats.

The silence was broken by the steel-on-steel rumble of the midday commuter train to Boston. I turned to mark its passing as I have so many times, and was startled to note that I hadn’t seen a single bird in the entire sweep of the marshes.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up Broken Water Main Floods UCLA "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans