Owls are often associated with wisdom and intelligence in literature and history. In T.H. White's The Once and Future King, one of the young King Arthur's most influential tutors was Merlin's companion, the owl Archimedes. And we can hardly do better than to follow the path of Pooh and Piglet, whose faith in Owl's brilliance was unwavering, awed as they were by Owl's ability spell his own name: W-O-L.
Last night The Golden Hour lay around us like a soft blanket. We sat on the deck, lingering in the light, when a sudden whoosh of wings burst around us and two barred owls flew past, one landing in the trees beyond our yard, and the other landing mercilessly on a mourning dove. We watched and listened as the two owls vocalized to each other, and before the light faded completely the younger owl swept back across the trees and more or less posed for this picture. I'm able to share it with you thanks to the tireless efforts of my dear old person, who took pity on the terrible photos I've been taking with my phone and bought me a small, miraculous camera, which I must confess I have only the vaguest idea how to use. This explains the appearance of midday, despite the fact that photo was taken at sunset.
Barred owls have been with us since we moved here. Generations of owl babies have doubtless been fed on hapless doves and frogs and snakes hunted and caught in our grass. Years ago, when my dear person worked at night, he actually recorded the bizarre sound he heard in one midnight lunch hour; neither of us had any idea what could possibly make such a sound, but it was clearly in the treetop canopy and clearly bore no resemblance to the "Who? Whooo? Who cooks for you?" owl voices we knew. Now we know firsthand what our National Geographic Complete Birds tells us: this familiar sound is sometimes preceded by "an ascending, agitated barking". The "barking" was the sound Rod recorded. In the years between then and now, the sound has become familiar to our family as we've watched - and heard - those generations of owls.
In the silence left by the departed barred owl family, we grilled brats and roasted potatoes on the grill. This isn't exactly how I made them last night, but this is my latest idea about October roasted potatoes. I'm trying it this weekend, so stay tuned for opinions, but this - a variation on my usual theme - is my plan.
Wash and peel one large white baking potato and one large sweet potato; cut into cubes. Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, mustard and maple syrup with the herbs you prefer. (I know. I wish I COULD give you measurements, but I just can't. It's just not how I cook, except when baking or candy-making. I ordered them so that you can see decreasing proportions of each, because you know what happens if you introduce too much of something, like maple syrup, which will tend to burn as sugar does...well, you know how to cook. I trust you. Do it by trial-end-error. Cooking is messy.) Toss the olive oil mixture and potatoes together and place in cast iron skillet. Cook over indirect heat on your gas grill for an hour or until the potatoes are done. (You could also put the potatoes on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for an hour or so. I prefer the grill because I always prefer cast iron.)
Let me know if you try it, or if you roast potatoes, or what you're eating as fall wraps its arms around us all.
One final note: I cannot say much about this due to the secrecy considerations of the holiday season, but I CAN tell you that my order arrived this week from UltraCuteCrochet. If you haven't looked at her stuff, do it now. If you need presents for loved ones in cold climes, or warm climes if your loved ones, like my dear old person, tend to be cold no matter the temperature. I've ordered from Erin more than once and always been thrilled with the quality of work, the speed of delivery and the amazing joy of a handcrafted, customized work of wearable art. Check it out for yourself.
Eat Here Eatery Disclaimer: Every writer knows the challenge inherent in proofing one's own work. In my case, since The Baby Went to Africa, I have no proofreader. All mistakes are my own. Until he gets back, of course.