The tawny owl was explaining to me, or attempting to explain, how the size of the mountainous waves at Mavericks that often give surfers the willies and shrink their balls into kernels the size of yellow corn are influenced by cosmic dust storms light years into space that turn in a loopy direction somewhat leftward on the level with which humans are familiar, but far more closely, and variably, in zippy spirals, to more sentient creatures.
He could see I was not following too closely, and he did that rotational thing he does with his neck, head. and eyes to express maximum disapproval.
I said, "What about all that 'Be here now' stuff you're always proclaiming?"
He said, "It's not either/or. It's both. It's all of the above. How many times do we need to go over this? And beyond."
I said, "I'm just saying."
He said, "I know."
The tawny owl claims, and who am I to doubt, to be able to continually experience all that came before him in the sixty three generations over nine hundred years on Earth in which he can trace his family back to a forest on the edge of what later became Romania near the Black Sea. It's all right there at his disposal on one continuous loop. I think that explains a lot.
From European bogs where the competition for fresh meat turned sordid and ugly, one forward leaning branch of the tawny owl family decided to emigrate in the general direction of the setting sun. And quite wisely as it turned out. They were said to be the likely originators of the phrase that later become popular, Westward Ho.
Freedom became especially difficult to enjoy on the old sod once the mindless bipedal savages stuck in the dirt learned how to channel their misery into blind aggression, using horrific weapons that scattered flaming pellets of poisonous lead into the air.
Before long, no one was safe. Not even at night. That was hard to stomach for an owl who was conscientously immersed in regurgitating eyeballs and bones that were mixed in with meaty loins and chops. In that delicate interim, which could be called, tragically, a blind spot, drunks with guns took a staggering toll on brave birds.
In that area, not a lot has changed. As you can probably imagine, the tawny owl, as the superlative, keen eyed hunter that he has learned to become, frowns upon the reliance of subterfuge, skullduggery and bombast to skew the odds of a fair hunt. He is not a fan of double barreled shotguns, laser sights, and automatic machine guns. He is not a fan of the running dogs who yap and bark like pussies with fangs for the NRA.
It was the brave crossing of the Atlantic by a shunned quartet of mixed race cousins with William Penn in 1681 that turned out to be the key move for the family of the tawny owl. Maintaining a well balanced diet in America was the key to their success. That, and learning how to mix with the Natives. The tawny owl was proud to have in his lineage spotted owls, screech owls, horned and hooded owls, Northern pygmy owls, and numerous barn owls, although he could neve understand the attraction of a roof over his head.
The grandfather of the tawny owl, who had a good chunk of aggressive pygmy in him, along with his brother, and of course their lovely wives, was the first in the family to reach the edge of what humans comically call Western Civilization and to look out over the vast Pacific. After taking in the scope of the arc of the bay, and mindful of a reverential silence that swam like krill in the air, one brother spoke to the other, although who said what first is still in dispute, which is often the case with brothers, although the words are not.
"Can you dig it?"
The tawny owl has carved out a range of sweetness from Half Moon Bay in the North to Big Sur in the South that serves him well. Montery Bay was somewhat reminiscent of Galway Bay to him, although more aqua and effluvial, where an uncle in the eleventh century found true love. Plus, the food was way better in California. He never went hungry. The selection of available fresh meat was superb.
The tawny owl not only never went hungry, he was never bored in California. Only the boring are bored he often exclaimed to me, usually out of what seemed to be the clear blue and empty sky, when I was the only person present to hear.
I think, though, that while context is often what seems to be missing when new ideas are first broached, it then tends to become more clear as time theoretically catches up to unfolding events. Or something like to that. Or nearly. Or it could be.
The tawny owl, though, said, "Whatever, dude."
I said, "When you say 'whatever' to me, it sounds like what you're really saying is "Fuck you."
He said, "Me and everyone else."
I said, "What?"
He said, "You're so astute."
"Wait a minute," I declared. "Don't think that I am incapable of seeing what it happening here."
I asked the tawny owl what he really thought, no jokes, no allowances, no pandering, no unnecessary roughness bellow the belt. But all he did was that thing again with his head, his neck, and his big, wide, open eyes.