"Probably here for the assembly," I mumbled to myself.
Outside, the sun was shining brightly. That's unusual in November here in Washington State. Here came the kids...all 500 of them, spilling through the double doors like a bursting dam. They scattered happily in every direction...laughing; tagging one another, and racing for the monkey bars. I noticed a group of them clustered near the building. They were pointing at the roof and yelling.
"Lookit the owl!" they exclaimed to one another. Sure enough, right there on the rooftop sat a huge snowy owl. He seemed impervious to their shouts. His stunning white feathers were ruffled by a stiff autumn wind and yet he himself seemed quite calm. Serene.
"Go get your camera!" my friend and coworker Michelle yelled. (I'd brought it to work to photograph some Native American dancers who were performing in our assembly for Native American Heritage Day.)
"It never works that way for me," I replied. "Every time I see something spectacular and run to get my camera, it's gone when I get back."
"Just go!" she urged, "I'll make him stay."
Was she kidding? I was skeptical, but then I thought, "Michelle's a Canadian... from the Great White North, home of Canadian geese...maybe she knows something about snowy owls. Or not. I decided to believe her and ran for my camera. And the owl did stay. Just long enough for me to snap a few photos. Then he was gone.
Now recess was over and Michelle and I strolled back inside together. We wondered why a snowy owl would be visiting our school in the middle of the day. After all, aren't owls nocturnal? And whatever would make him choose a playground full of noisy, boisterous children as a place to perch?
Michelle looked at me with a quiet smile and with an air of mystery said, "Maybe they brought him...I'm just sayin..."
The bell rang and the loudspeaker announced the beginning of the assembly. Children were making their way to the auditorium. In the midst of them, I spotted once again that snowy white-haired woman. She was one of the dancers.
The dancers danced and the elders spoke of respect and love and the old ways. The dances depicted creatures...animals and birds. The old woman shuffled past me with her arms raised toward the sky...Wings. Her downy white hair...Feathers. Her deep, wise eyes... Owl.
"Maybe they did summon the owl," I mused. "Maybe they brought him. Or maybe she is the Owl, or He is she..."
I don't know. I only know that on the very first Native American Heritage Day the sun was shining in November and a Snowy Owl came to Eagleridge School.
(I've requested permission to share my photos of the dancers with you and am waiting for their reply. They are a private people, and their dances and songs are highly personal. I will respect their answer either way.) In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the photos and story of the Owl who visited Eagleridge.