December of 2008, I was 22 weeks pregnant when a local handmade craft show took place in a church hall near where I live. My sister had her own booth set up selling handmade toys. Unfortunately, she took ill the actual day of the craft show, so my brother-in-law and I sat at the booth in shifts promoting and selling her wares. I passed much of the time knitting a sweater for my baby, due the following May. During one of the breaks, I waddled down the aisles, eyeing the other crafts. One table caught my attention almost immediately. It sold stuffed owls made of yarn and there, in the booth, hung a mobile. Suspended from an actual tree branch were three baby owls: one grey, one lavender and one white. I knew the vendor was not actually promoting it for a baby's room, but it caught my eye and a lump formed in my throat, imagining them flying over my baby's crib, keeping a watchful eye, protecting him or her from bad dreams and the like. Owls are nocturnal. And in Greek Mythology, Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom is depicted with an owl. So the owl has become associated with wisdom, the arts and the acquiring of skills. All qualities I hoped my baby would somehow inherit or embrace.
Since the mobile, my sister has made him a mama and baby owl, my mother gave him a handknit blue baby owl and I was given a big brown Mama owl, all the way from Africa. There's an owl made almost entirely out of twigs and birch bark; there is a felt one on his crib bumper.
robin. Or a bear. Or a deer...who knows?
Whatever it is, he is sure to absorb some wisdom from all these toy owls as he grows. And I trust that, especially when times may grow dark in his life, he will be able to look far and wide, to see his path clearly and not be afraid to swoop, to soar.
For now, I extend my own wing over him. His three sibling spirits twirl at my touch as he giggles. His eyes close. Mine blur. I can almost hear their tiny hoots echoing in my breast. My breath, the breeze of oak leaves stirred. My heart, the beating of feathered wings.
towit towoo. towit towoo. towit towoo...
Owl mobile: Katie McLellan
Twig letters: The Copper Ewe
Music: In Our Talons, The Bowerbirds