Here is the next excerpt from my grandmother’s unpublished manuscript. Landscape With Figures by Beatrice Allen Page:
“A full moon last night. I stood on the porch gazing at it and trying to realize that men have actually walked on it. I find it almost impossible to believe that a human being had actually been way up there in the sky on that lifeless planet.
Then I recalled what Jan said once: ‘How can we be so sure there’s no life on the moon? Maybe there’s a form of life outside our range of perception.’
Oddly, I almost find it easier to believe that than to believe human beings like myself ever landed on a planet. From Jan’s far-fetched supposition, its an easy step to believing there may be other forms of life, other beings, on our planet of whom we are unaware because our receiving apparatus can’t be tuned in on a channel that would make them visible.
As I was letting my mind play with these fanciful notions, the stillness of the evening was ever so slightly roughed up by a little rasping sound, something like a soft hiss. It came from the pines beside the house. I turned to look, and there on a bare branch of the dead tree I’ve been meaning to have cut down, sat a small owl silhouetted against the moon as if it were posing for a calendar picture. I don’t know my owls very well but I guessed from its impatient behavior – a restless twisting from side to side as it uttered its persistent, rasping demand – that it was a baby.
A few minutes later, the mother bird, no bigger than her child but with different plumage (much more white in it) flew out of nowhere with that silent glide of owls, and fed him. She sat beside him for awhile, and every so often swooped off into the darkness and returned presently with another tidbit of something for him. I wondered that his irritable demand for food didn’t get on her nerves. If it did, she didn’t show it.
Once she uttered a call vaguely suggestive of a mourning dove but without any inflection, just a monotonous blowing out of one round note after another: too-too-too-too… Presently she flew off and did not return.
After watching her impatient child for awhile longer I went inside, pored over my bird books and tentatively decided it was a saw-whet owl. Then I went out on the porch and turned a flashlight on it, which confirmed my identification: small, without ear-tufts, chocolate brown in color with white ‘eyebrows.’ It stared into the beam of light for a moment or two with an expression of mild surprise but no alarm, then turned its head away in seeming boredom and resumed that odd little sibilant noise.
I waited for some time for the mother to come back. She did not, and I finally went to bed. Before I feel asleep, I could hear her from the distance uttering her too-too-too-too-too… Was it an admonishment to her offspring to be quiet, a promise that food was coming, or just a maternal reassurance? One of my bird books said that saw-whet owls ‘sing’ only in the late winter and early spring. If that is true, that mother owl last night must have had her seasons mixed up.”