This time later, nearly dark, tripping across roots and slipping in apparently invisible mud: after most of the light is gone, everything's the same color. Of course.
A wrong turn, backtracking, light eking into shadow and into less than shadow, logs to straddle, everywhere that damp mossy scent.
We stood in the clearing where I last saw the three babies and the world fell silent save for the panting dog, who for some reason wouldn't stop breathing for our benefit.
I whipped out my iPhone and pulled up the blog post from last Thursday with the photo of the owlet on the horizontal branch -- in fact, I was standing at exactly the spot where I snapped the picture.
"Here!" I said, and held the phone up so that if you squinted, you could almost line up the photo with the branch and pretend it was the real thing.
I know: pathetic, but also cool, actually. (In LOVE with my iPhone.)
We decided to head back to the car, and somehow, in our looping up and around, ended up on a wide path parallel to the one on which we started, a few hundred yards and a few hundred bigleaf maples to the east. Crazy dark now, and overcast, so no lunar illumination. And then, there it was -- D. heard it -- the odd whoop-whoop-whoosh of a family of babies, just to our left and part way down a slope. We headed into the murky underbrush, careful of whipping twigs, a tumble here-and-there, until we were nearly beneath the talkative baby; and all we could see was the its dark silhouette against the slightly-less-dark clouds, between leafwork and branch.
In my desire to exhibit my tech skills, I opened a flashlight app on my phone, and couldn't figure out what was wrong until T. pointed out that I was pointing it at myself. Oops. (Not a very powerful light -- at least that's my excuse.)
But no need, really.
There was just enough contrast between what was solid, (and therefore should be avoided), and the open air around us, to allow the trek back to the truck in relative safety.
(Might I point out that I had merely stepped out for a stroll tonight around the block when I ran into T. and D. on their way down to the park; and when I zipped back into my house to put on proper shoes, I entreated my son to tag along. )
Prior to tonight's owling adventure, the day was fraught with events and worries producing a nearly unmanageable level of stress, and most of it melted away (thanks again to the current love of my life: my iPhone) when I received a most welcome text message from son #2: "Yes I'm fine. Phone got wet so was in rice."
And where was I when I read these golden words? I was smack in the middle of the enchanted owl glen where last week the pileated woodpecker so startled us with its deep bell-like boom boom on the snag.
No woodpeckers tonight, no eagles harassed by crows, but I learned on the quick half-mile back up to the house (four of us piled into the cab of a pick-up) that there's a heron rookery almost within a stone's throw of my top-floor window which looks to the southeast, over Lake Washington and beyond to Mt. Rainier.
This bodes well, I think.
For just about everything.
(There's something about bird-sightings that always seems to me a signal of a turn in events --)