“He really was an enchanting person. In some way he was like the spiritual father of everybody…. It is hard to imagine Central Park without Charles Kennedy.” Marie Winn, author of Red-tails in Love, and close friend of Charles, remembering him after his death in October 2004

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snow, Cold, and Owls

Winter's weather is preceding the season's official arrival.  A blizzard just rifled across Iowa.  The Cedar Rapids family is snowbound.  The nieces and nephews are enjoying no-school 'snow days'.

Deb and I took a walk at Cherry Creek State Park as the sun set this afternoon, crunching along snowy trails in the woods, listening and watching for owls.

In the previous post, I wrote of looking for eagles in Iowa the day after Christmas.  For many years in a row Charles would fly in from NYC and we'd drive from Colorado for our large family Christmas gathering.  Some years, Charles, Deb, and I would participate in the Linn County Christmas Bird Count, at the invitation of our dear friend and birding master, Pete Wickham.  One year, we began the count out near 'the old Linn County Home'-- at 5 a.m.  The temperature was well below zero.  A million stars were frozen solid in the icy darkness.  We eight or nine bird counters huddled around our cars and marveled at the crystalline silence. Warm smiles crinkled raw faces when the first "Who are you? You too?!" calls of Great-horned Owls boomed from long distance across the picked corn fields.  Charles was thrilled with the whole scene.  A short time later, as we drove slowly along a gravel road, a Barred Owl flashed huge in front of our headlights, landing on a low branch of a small tree in the ditch, still in the glow of the headlights.  Deb, Charles, and I were transfixed. It was a 'life bird' for us. Even Pete, the Christmas Count veteran, was agog.  For many years after, Charles would excitedly recall the pitch black morning when we saw the best possible owl and nearly froze to death.

It was not many years later that the owls in the cold dark of Central Park became favorite haiku subjects for Charles.  Plucked from The Fish Jumps Out of the Moon:

  the sun drops                                         sitting under a pine
the cold slides in                                  waiting for the owl to fly
     owl time                                               soft snow falling

     tree                                                            5:30 a.m.
in winter nude                                      owl back on her branch
    an owl                                                  the dawn the cold


Patricia Kennedy said...

This is so cool! It brings back wonderful memories of Christmases with Uncle Chuckie Buckie. Thank you Steve, for keeping his memory alive.

Love You!

Dad and Mom

Steve Kennedy said...

HI Folks,
Great to hear from you. I'm glad you like the blog. Thanks for all of your hard work and support in bringing the books to publication.