Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 24, 2014

Snowy Owl sighted

Dec 21, 2012
Washington County naturalist Pam Holz took this photo Wednesday on G36. She requests anyone seeing a snowy owl observe the bird from a distance as the birds are highly stressed from migration and not used to humans. She also asks people seeing a snowy owl to report the time and place to the Washington County Conservation Center at 657-2400.

Washington County naturalist Pam Holz took this photo Wednesday on G36. She requests anyone seeing a snowy owl observe the bird from a distance as the birds are highly stressed from migration and not used to humans. She said they are protected by international treaty. She also asks people seeing a snowy owl to report the time and place to the Washington County Conservation Center at 657-2400.

Holz said that the birds migrate to southern Canada and the northern United States during the winter and only every once in a while do they migrate to the Midwest. She said that then Iowa may only see two of the snowy owls. She said that having a snowy owl in Washington County may be a once in a lifetime event.

Comments (4)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Dec 31, 2012 11:21

Interstate 80 was mostly empty that evening. It leaves Salt Lake and cuts across the Bonneville Salt Flats, a bleak scape of smooth salty plains spreading over many miles. Eying the vastness, I was startled by an old motor home on the shoulder, and a weathered, bearded, long-haired man shaking a crow bar at me. He seemed a combination of street preacher and angry property owner yelling “Get off my freeway!”

For reasons I didn’t think through and couldn’t explain, I hit the brake hard, nearly skidding to a stop a little beyond his camper.

He loped towards me in a stooped, uneven gait. One arm, not the one still brandishing the tire iron, was withered, with the hand pulled up against his chest. The crowbar shook in the dusk, coming closer. Is this about to get ugly? How will I fare against a disabled man with a weapon? Is he on drugs?

“Thanks for stopping!” he blurted. “I’ve been trying three hours. No one would stop!”

“You might reconsider your public marketing strategy,” I thought to myself. “What’s wrong, sir?”

“I have a flat tire and my crowbar is the wrong size; it won’t fit the lug nuts on my tire,” he explained.

A small girl of 5 or 6 emerged from the other side of the vehicle. Skinny, ragged, and seeming vulnerable even for a child, she stepped behind the man and peered at me.

“This is my daughter. Her mom’s gone. We’re traveling to Iowa to be with family.”

He kept explaining: “I’m a Vietnam vet. That’s where I got hurt,” nodding at his arm and leg. “We got a flat and my crowbar doesn’t fit.”

I had a crowbar in my trunk, under our packed clothing and other stuff. I pulled out enough junk to paw down and extract the iron. Kneeling back at the tire, I tried to place the cup over the nuts but it was too small. Mine didn’t fit either.

Well, let’s have another look at his. He handed me the iron, I slipped it up to a lug nut, pressed, and it bit firmly. It was the right size.

As I started to contract and pull up on the iron, the painful reality flooded my mind: He wasn’t strong enough to turn the bolts, not with one good arm anyway. He was ashamed to tell his daughter the truth.

She looked to him for protection. Her mom’s gone. What did that mean? Had she died? Left them?

He was all this girl had. He couldn’t bear to tell her he couldn’t do the simple thing they needed. They’d been stuck in one of our land’s most desolate stretches for three hours while he waved for help as motorists passed by.

I relaxed the tension on the iron and pulled it off. “It fits kind of awkward. Let me try again. I think it will work.” I wiggled it a few seconds before resetting it with perfect bite.

“I think that will hold…” I “struggled” to make the iron fit each successive nut. I’ve never changed a tire with moist blurry eyes before or since then.

Driving on my way, I felt warmed and yet still condemned. Thank heavens I stopped. How would the rest of their trip would go? How will their life go? Will others be there if they’re needed?

I wondered then, and since, how often I pass someone on the road, at the store—or in my home—who needed big, important help from something little and easy on my part.

 

Shawn Mitchell

 



Posted by: Thomas Langr | Dec 23, 2012 16:42

Saw a Bald Eagle on the way to church this morning. This was something I never saw as a child. I see them often now. Amazing. I did see an owl once or twice (in SE Minnesota).

 



Posted by: Thomas Langr | Dec 23, 2012 16:41

Saw a Bald Eagle on the way to church this morning. This was something I never saw as a child. I see them often now. Amazing.

 



Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Dec 21, 2012 22:22


Yesterday I watched a huge flight of geese winging their way south through one of those panoramic sunsets that color the entire sky for a few moments. I saw them as I leaned against the lion statue in front of the Chicago Art Institute, where I was watching the Christmas shoppers hurry along Michigan Avenue. When I lowered my gaze, I noticed that a bag lady, standing a few feet away, had also been watching the geese. Our eyes met and we smiled - silently acknowledging the fact that we had shared a marvelous sight, a symbol of the mystery of the struggle to survive. I overheard the lady talking to herself as she shuffled away. Her words, "God spoils me," were startling.

Was the lady, this street derelict, being facetious? No. I believe the sight of the geese had shattered, however briefly, the harsh reality of her own struggle. I realized later that moments such as this one sustained her; it was the way she survived the indignity of the street. Her smile was real.

The sight of the geese was her Christmas present. It was proof God existed. It was all she needed.

I envy her.

 

Flight of the Geese

by Fred Lloyd Cochran



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