A minor little detail about me which my close friends already know: I am immensely fond of owls. Hearing or catching a glimpse of a wild owl is enough to make my whole week. The beautiful picture shown above, of a gorgeous white owl against a backdrop of a harvest moon, is an illustration from our private archive taken from an 1882 advertisement for Ball's corsets. (No, there is no particular connection between an owl and a corset —but then, nor is there any particular connection between a gecko and insurance. Advertisements don't always make sense.) The way the owl in the picture is arranged to seem as though she would like to pounce on the lady's hat always makes me smile: it reminds me of a personal experience. A few years ago Gabriel and I gave a presentation as part of a fundraiser for the West Sound Wildlife Shelter on Bainbridge Island. The shelter brought a beautiful barred owl named Athena to the fundraiser and we got to spend some time with her before the presentation. (She'd come to the shelter after being hit by a car. The accident broke her wing; thanks to the help of the people at the shelter it healed, but it had been too damaged to allow her to successfully hunt on her own.) Barred owls' preferred diet includes songbirds, and when we met her Athena thought my feather-covered hat had her lunch on top of it! She was tethered, so she didn't get a chance to "catch" it, but she expressed a great deal of avid interest!
Sarah: "You are SO gorgeous!" Athena the owl: (Thinking) I could eat that hat. Sarah: "You are just such a beautiful creature!" Athena: Seriously, I'm not joking: GIVE ME THE HAT!
Sarah: "So amazing…" Athena: If you're not going to give me the hat, just go away. Stupid humans…