My aunt came to visit recently. We went for a walk at twilight and, just as we happened to be talking about her, a Nonnetjiesuil swept down from a tower, flying right past us.
Imagine a feathery saucer with two black holes, flying flat-side-forward towards you.
We didn’t get a photo, but still, it happened.
Apparently these creatures (also known as Barn Owls or Tyto Alba, family Tytonidae) are quite common, and found on every continent but Antarctica.
Later, I searched the Internet for a poem about owls, and found this one. Then I found this poet, who wrote this incredible book, containing passages like:
"The poet walked as much as possible out of doors: which reminds me that Lord Bacon used to say sweet herbs and flowers refreshed his memory, and on an April day would ride out to enjoy the rain, which he considered wholesome because of the nitre in the air and the universal spirit of the world..."
The Feminine Influence on the Poets (1910) – Edward Thomas, 1878 - 1917
Of course I had to google nitre.
But the Internet remains a remarkable thing.
by Edward Thomas
Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved;
Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof
Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest
Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof.
Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest,
Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I.
All of the night was quite barred out except
An owl’s cry, a most melancholy cry
Shaken out long and clear upon the hill,
No merry note, nor cause of merriment,
But one telling me plain what I escaped
And others could not, that night, as in I went.
And salted was my food, and my repose,
Salted and sobered, too, by the bird’s voice
Speaking for all who lay under the stars,
Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.
Source: Poems (1917)