the Confused Owl

the Confused Owl by Karissa Cole [original post]

Taking in the fresh air, enjoying the scenery, letting your mind wander – sometimes there’s just nothing better than going for a quiet walk, you know? I’ve gone on many a simple walk in the past. And I’ve learned that if you walk far enough, you can find yourself in a completely different world.

No, really.

In fact, that’s exactly what happened.

It’s not often that I head out for a walk during January. Today, though, it was particularly sunny, and the air had just the right feel, and I was just the right kind of melancholy. So I bundled up and off I went.  I had no destination, no planned route. As was my habit on these little voyages I simply walked around, letting my feet decide where to take me. Soon enough my mind started to drift, and I was hardly even aware of my surroundings. In fact, I was so wrapped up in my own thoughts, I didn’t realize where I was until I was already there. . .

At some point I turned down a street completely canopied by trees. Living in a town nestled at the base of a mountain meant seeing several trees – especially ones lining quiet, back roads perfect for my long, simple walks – was quite commonplace. But somewhere in the back of my mind I felt there was something very different about these trees. In fact, soon everything began to feel different. But I couldn’t quite nail down what it was that made everything seem so odd to me, so I paid little attention and simply kept going, my mind wandering completely freely. I only barely noticed that the road I was on started to narrow and seemed to be a lot less traveled than most of the roads in my neighborhood. Still, I continued walking, more lost in my thoughts than anyone has ever been, I dare say. Suddenly the brightest purple I’d ever seen crept into my vision and started to take me away from my silly random ideas about clouds and pi and whatnot. Up ahead and to my right I spotted a beautiful bed of the brightest colored tulips I’d ever seen resting along the road. Striking yellow, purple, red, and orange flowers sprang up from lush green grass, gently swaying in the soft breeze. I let my thoughts turn to them, now, and began to think about how much I loved tulips and how odd it was to see them this time of year.

That’s when I stopped. I finally looked around.

It was January and where I lived that meant seeing cold, ice, snow, and lots of it. But as I peered around now, no trace of winter could be found. It looked like I stepped out of my frost-bitten world and right into a story-book illustration. The neighborhood street I thought I had been walking on was now nowhere in sight. Instead, I stood in the middle of a small dirt path that seemed to stretch on forever ahead and forever behind. It was surrounded by the amazingly tall trees I noticed earlier, but now I could see that they were capped with big, bright, green leaves.

I then realized why everything had seemed so different to me just a few minutes ago: it had been so long since I had seen warmth and colors, I suppose my brain just couldn’t quite process it. Instead, it seemed as though I had felt the world around me change before I could really see it, and so I thought for a moment about how odd that fact was. But the moment for that thought swiftly ended and I turned my attention back to the increasingly lovely scenery.

Instead of being icy and snow-covered, the ground here boasted nothing but bright green grass, save the little dirt foot-path. Grand hedges and rows of the most beautiful flowers sprang up here and there. The sunlight shown through the canopy of leaves and seemed to make everything glow. Every color was brighter than I’d even seen. Even the dirt beneath my feet was a soft, warm brown-gold that almost shimmered in the light. The air was warm, too, and felt just like it did on the perfect summer day.

Now, normally, I suppose, when a person goes for a walk and expects to be in one place but ends up someplace completely different and totally foreign, panic and confusion would immediately set in. To my great surprise, though, this is not what happened. I do admit to being a touch confused, though. But I decided I would question how a person could start off on the streets of a cold, wintery city, walk for twenty minutes and somehow end up waltzing right into a warm, bright forest later. In that moment, the warm air, the lovely scenery, and the gorgeous colors covering all of it were much too inviting for me to worry about things making sense.

Figuring there was no sense in going backward, as new and interesting things can usually only be found by going forward, I continued walking again, this time letting my mind wander a little less. After all, if I ended up here, my mind must have wandered just the right amount. Any farther and who knows where I might find myself.

All around dozens more flowers dotted the path, their colors singing wonderfully. I breathed in their hues, and listened to their songs. I had never been anywhere so perfect.

Suddenly I heard something just ahead and to the left. As I walked closer I could almost make out a tiny, little voice. Not one to pass up an opportunity to meet someone new, and being very curious by nature, I approached the source of the sound and pushed aside some shrubbery to see who was talking, and to whom.

Behind the leaves and flora there was a small clearing, where the sun shown down like a warm, glittering spotlight. Standing primly on a flat, smooth rock was what appeared to be some kind of owl, although admittedly not any kind of owl I’d seen before. He was very little but plump. His big eyes took up most of his head, and his feathers shone in the brightest blue. Below him on the ground stood several more little owls, each a different bright color.

Marveling at what I saw, I stood there watching, unnoticed.

“All right, ready?” the blue owl asked. He began waving his wings like a conductor leading an orchestra “One, two three. . . “

As soon as he had finished saying “three” a little red owl sang out “Hooo!”  After him, another, an orange owl, also sang out with his own “Hooo, hooo!” A few more owls called out, “hooing” just as the others. They each seemed to know their part, and sang out just at the right time, all in turn. When finally it came down to the last owl, a chubby bright green one, every other owl turned expectantly toward him, awaiting his “hoo.”

But instead of saying “hoo” just as the others had, he called out:

“Why?”

Grumbles instantly erupted from the other owls.

“Oh for crying out loud,” the blue owl leading the group mumbled. Clearly frustrated he dropped his wings dramatically. “We’ve PRACTICED this Gerry! It’s ‘HOO.’We’re supposed to say ‘HOO’ not ‘WHY’!”

“Well maybe I don’t really care ‘who,’” little green Gerry replied. “Maybe I want to know ‘why’ instead.” he innocently said as he spread out his wings in a “that’s just the way I feel” kind of way.

“Oh good grief,” Blue said, squeezing his eyes shut and rubbing his forehead the way you do when you suddenly get a very intense headache. “Okay, everybody take five.” he called out. He then fluttered off his stage in a huff, quietly muttering “I just can’t work like this,” in a very prima donna fashion.

The other owls started to move about talking amongst themselves. But no one was talking to the little green owl. In fact, they all seemed to shift away from him, leaving him sitting alone. He sighed and started absentmindedly stroking the soft blades of grass with his wing.

Thinking that nothing so cute and sweet should look so unhappy, I cleared my throat to draw attention to myself, determined to cheer the little fellow up. I crouched down closer and told him I couldn’t help but overhear all that had just happened. He made a shrugging motion. “I just want to know “why,” that’s all,” he said. “There’s just so much out there to know about!” he exclaimed. I nodded in agreement as he continued: “I mean, why does the wind whistle? Why do the stars sparkle? Why do the trees stand so tall?” he asked, gaining more and more enthusiasm as he spoke. “Why do the flowers dance? Why do brooks babble? ” he began gesturing excitedly. “I even like to ask ‘what’ sometimes too,” he said, his excitement now completely bubbling over. “What’s behind the sky? What’s beneath the ground? What makes the colors so bright?” Practically dancing with joy, he rattled off a few more “whys” and “whats” and even a few “whens and “hows”.

Finally, when finished, he flopped back on the ground, a big smile on his face. “People think I’m just confused, and that I get what I’m supposed to say mixed up. But I can’t just ask ‘who’ all my life. It’s an important question sometimes, but there’s so much more to know. And I just want to know things is all. It makes me happy. I guess some people think that’s pretty crazy.”

“I don’t think that’s crazy at all!” I blurted. If I had felt any shock as the result of talking with a tiny neon owl with a curious mind, it had apparently worn off.

He looked up at me with a smile. “Really?” he asked, hopefully.

“Of course.” I replied. “I like to know things, too.”

He bounced up off the ground, clearly feeling much more cheerful than he had a minute ago. “My name’s Gerry.” he said pleasantly, offering up a wing. I took it and introduced myself.

“Wondering and asking and learning is great fun,” he started. “But wondering and asking and learning with a new friend? I think that’s going to be even better.” Gerry said happily. I smiled at my new little avian companion. I knew I’d have to find my way back home soon, but for now, I had other things to wonder about.

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