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Tree Child

Story by Ellen Ensley Created 2002-08-06
Page 10 of 19

Chapter 10 - Wild Sushi

It was hard to do. Sushi was taken out to Sushi's tree. This time when he moved from tree to tree, we didn't retrieve him. Quietly we sat and watched as Sushi practiced flying and investigating the world around him. That night at dusk, we went to the house and left Sushi out in the woods for his first night in the wild.

At 3 A.M., I was tiptoeing through the dew damp grass in my nightie, with a flashlight, out to the houseboat. Momma was worried about the owl.
Sushi hadn't moved from the branch where we last saw him. He was softly making his crying sounds. "Weeeeooooooooh! Weeeeeooooooh!" Sushi was scared! But, he didn't come down from his branch. When I called up to him to let him know I was there, I startled a giant Woodstork who was nesting quietly in the very top of the tree. With a bloodcurdling scream, the Woodstork took off across the marsh like a prehistoric pterodactyl. All I had succeeded in doing was frightening the owl more.

I stumbled back to the house, wet with dew, and climbed back in the warm bed. I had tried not to wake Steve. But, Steve gave me that LOOK. I can feel the LOOK in the dark. The look that says, "I married a crazy woman, and now I have to live with my mistake." But, he didn't say anything.

In the morning I left Sushi a bowl of catfood. I kept leaving work and bringing him treats. But, for three days, to our knowledge, he stayed right there on the same branch and didn't eat.
On the fourth morning of being late to work, I stood under the tree for half an hour waving a big, fat mud minnow in the air. Sushi finally came down and ate the fresh minnows swimming in his bowl, cussing me in owlese the whole time.

Sushi hadn't hunted. He was still dependent upon us for food. Once again, I felt like a bad mommie. It became a regular practice for us to leave tid-bits of food on the deck for the owl when we went to work. At least now he was eating the food we left. Everything was going alright. The owl was living free, but it wasn't happy.

Birds attacked the owl regularly, now that he lived outside. He became more alert and very watchful for attacks. Sushi became more aloof from us. He was mad at us again. The owl would just sit up in a branch and stare morosely at us. He stopped garbling his owl talk.

Suddenly, the weather turned bad. Really bad. Gale force winds, and heavy driving rain settled over us. A tropical depression had moved in on the island. Would we find a dead, wet pile of feathers when this was over? Sushi had never weathered a storm outside. Especially a storm this bad.
We went out in yellow rain slickers, calling the owl in the storm. But, he had disappeared. All through the storm, I kept going out at all hours of the day and night, like Katheryn Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights wandering over the stormy moors calling H E A T H C L I F F! Only I was staggering around in the wind and rain calling... S O O O O O O S H I !!! S O O O O O O O O S H I!!!

Dejected, I would go back to the house, dripping wet in my yellow rain slicker and boots, looking like a depressed and soggy Paddington Bear. Steve would give me that LOOK. The LOOK that says, "She's going to catch pneumonia out there trying to find an owl!" But, he didn't say anything. Steve knew I was suffering. And, he was worried about Sushi, too. We cared deeply for the bird.

"The owl is a good example of a creature that possesses special powers not found in other animals (McGaa 1990)" - The Owl Pages - Owls in Lore and Culture

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