Saturday, February 6, 2010

To Wit. To Woo.

It started with the mobile.

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.

To be honest, what truly caught my fancy when I first espied the mobile was that there were three baby owls. See, I'd miscarried my first baby a decade before in May of 1998. And the second baby left me the spring of 2004, at only 8 weeks gestation. The third baby I lost was the fraternal twin of this baby I was now carrying. Thus the lump in my throat as I watched the three baby owls floating gently over the table at this booth. I bought the mobile. I felt these tiny, baby owls could represent the spirits of my baby's siblings; that somehow their spirits would have a close bond with this baby I was carrying and, crazy as it sounds, that they could be her or his little guardian angels in the form of these bits of yarn, this branch, these felt feet and big eyes. When I gave birth and brought him home, those little owls flew over his bassinette. And now they soar over his crib. His tired eyes grow sleepy watching them circle slowly above him, spinning him on his way to Dreamland.

So that's when it started. Then, I hung words made of twigs and stuck owl murals on the walls of his room. They perch on branches over shooting stars that glow in the dark. A round moon hangs above his crib as well so that when the lights go out, the shadows of these yarn owls on the mobile stand out against its peaceful, twilight glow; they seem to fly towards the moonlight as though alive. This is the image he has as he closes his eyes and moves his mind towards slumbering. And I like to imagine the spirits of his lost siblings are really present, guiding him to a peaceful night.

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.

But one of his very favourite owls is a specimen I purchased at a food festival in Stratford last summer. It's a wooden owl in the form of a flute. You place your lips above the hole in his head and the sound that emits from the back of his head is similar to the low, haunting hoots of an owl. And he adores it!

I kinda love that there are owls all over the house now. The very first night I moved into this farmhouse, my ex and I hauled our mattresses up the stairs and I opened the bedroom window to air out the place and admire the moonlight. As I lay my head down on the pillow, we heard a bird call in the pine tree next to the window. I sat up in disbelief. For the previous seven years, I had lived in one of the largest cities in Canada and what I could now hear singing me to sleep were the hoots of an actual, real live OWL. Just outside my bedroom window. In its natural habitat. Wild. I'd only ever heard one on the television. And I felt it was welcoming me home. It's a sweet memory I will carry with me when I move.

When May came around, the theme I chose for the baby shower was "The Forest". Trees. Leaves. Cedar needles. Birch bark. He is surrounded by woodland creatures. Foxes. Bears. Bunnies. Squirrels. Owls. Deer. My son's first name is of water, second name of the forest and third name of the sky. Part of his donor background is Irish, like me, and part holds some Native American heritage and I wanted all his names to be of nature. Of the world around him. Perhaps the owl is his totem animal. Though it could be a 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


Cabo said...

That was lovely. :) And it's late and owls are a good thing in such late hours. Actually they're good in pretty much any hour.

Hanging "Words of Twigs" can be nothing more than a grand thing.

Tricia Orchard said...

What a lovely post! The owls are beautiful. I don't know if I have ever heard a real owl before.

Thanks for sharing the owls!


Mon said...

I adore owls, and love to see them depicted arpund the house. I'm surprised I haven't crochedt one yet - just haven't found the pattern I really like I suppose.

Lovely story.

Sorry you don't have name/url enabled: Bohemian Shadows

Ciara said...
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Brian Miller said...

love it. i can see him there surrrounded and watched over by wisdom. some wonderful creative stuff you have done there as well.

hope you both are having a wonderful weekend!

Mimi said...
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the b in subtle said...

thank you, everyone! not a lot of energy to respond to each of you today. my l'il guy got sick in the night and we spent most of the day at the hospital, but he smiled at least once by the time we left. just monitoring his fever now. thankfully he should be right as rain in a coupla days.

just to clarify - i should give proper credit wher it's due. i didn't think people would think i actually was creative enough to create those words myself. didn't realize it would be misunderstood how i wrote it. so i'm sure you want to know hoo hoo hoo hooooo hoo made what? ;)

the yarn mobile is by a luverly canadian artist named katie mclellan LOVE her stuff. and the beautiful twiggy words are created by The Copper Ewe - beautiful stuff! i'll make sure credit is given them at the bottom of the post...

Ellen said...

The first time I heard owls where we live I was so excited! Being night and trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. Then wanting to see the owl...but no...I never saw the owl...your dear post was filled with emotion of your three that are not in your arms. I love the idea of them hovering over your babe...we all should be so cared for. I haven't caught up with your previous blogs but I look forward to reading them and getting to know you...your words are lovely....

Ciara said...

Nancy, this brought a lump to my throat. Would you believe me if I told you birds, but in particular owls are my 'thing'?!

A number of years ago were saw, unmistakably, a barn owl flying over the marshland (which is a protected bird sanctuary) which lies directly behind our house. It was during the day which made me feel strangely uneasy, but somehow party to something mysterious. I believe in auspicy, or bird divination, but it's meaning lies deep in my 'grandmother memory' and I always wonder at the tantalising sense that I should know, but I don't.

The twig words above his crib are just perfect. So beautiful. What a blessed little boy he is. Your love flows into my room as I read, Nancy.

Thank you for a perfect start to my Sunday. C x

Me said...

Just catching up on some of your past posts, having just stumbled across your corner of the interweb today...

I have to tell you, this is beautiful writing, and so very moving.

Beautiful images, full of love and grace.