Lightning strike

An hour of fishing on the edge of the reservoir and not a single nibble. Boring … yawn. With a roaring boom, Zeus threw a bolt of lightning along the top of the water hitting the hillside just above our heads. Finding myself flattened to the ground, I lifted my face off the rocks and watched the cloud of dirt and rocks dissipate from the hillside roughly 30 feet below the parked car.

I was not the only one who dropped to the ground with hair follicles prickling and bone-deep fear overloading my senses.

My eyebrows felt attached to my hairline. Can lighting flash sideways? I knew it could travel along the ground. I also knew anything metal such as fences or pipes will provide a path. The ground was dry and there were no conduction channels. It wasn’t a streamer – also known as a baby bolt. I could not tell where it originated so it may have been a mere side splash although it looked and felt like a full arrow from the quiver of a grumpy Greek god. The clouds did not look like storm clouds, however the air did have a thick oppressive feel.

We didn’t stick around. We gathered our stuff and headed up the trail to the car fast. My nerves frayed as we came to the strike zone. Fear got the better of me and I froze. Getting my son to a safe place kept my head together and I managed to push through my terror and keep walking. We dumped the fishing gear in the trunk and drove home. I swear my hair felt wiry and stiff for months.

The Owl

I slammed on my brakes as the owl tried to fly through the windshield of my car pulling up and away at the last millisecond. Driving over a mountain pass in the wee hours of the night, I am swimming in thankfulness that I did not plunge down the side of the mountain in a swerve. After taking a couple of deep breaths to get my awestruck mind back to thinking and focusing on the road, I wondered if it were the owl of death or the owl of wisdom. An owl that large in this area could only be a great horned owl. Completely distracted from my troubled thoughts I pondered the size – the wingspan covered the windshield – and the meaning of its appearance at that time.

My owl encounters since that night include: burrow and barn owls on Antelope Island, Verreaux’s eagle-owls in Tarangire, Africa, and a small hand-made leather owl my grandfather gave me from the jewelry chest of my deceased Russian grandmother. The little leather owl now hangs over my writing desk.

Symbols of wisdom in the western world and symbols of death in the eastern world, they come to me in my dreams as whispers of wisdom. In my dreams they tell me about people – their pain and the path they are on. They tell me why people do what they do. It frightens me sometimes to discover the whispers are true and not just a dream.