February 23, 2004
Last night I went out owling, with a number of people, led by Sharon Stiteler, official bird lady of Neilgaiman.com, just like in Jane Yolen’s lovely children’s book Owl Moon.[12:02 PM]
This is what happens when you go owling. You tromp through the deep snow in the darkness, until you’re on the edge of the woods. Then you play a CD of owls hooting and wait for a few moments, silently marvelling at the beautiful starry night and the almost magical stillness, at which point drunk people on snowmobiles roar past incredibly noisily.
You wait in silence, holding your breath, until the sound of snowmobiles and the hoarse singing and yells of the snowmobilers has finally died away, and then, in the pregnant, perfect stillness, you play the CD of owls hooting again, and, after a few moments, as if by magic, from nowhere you hear the sound of another bunch of drunk people on snowmobiles coming toward you.
I don’t think anyone’s done a proper scientific study on the way that recorded owl-calls can summon snowmobilers, but I think it’s pretty much magical.