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Gill has always been fascinated by owls. One of the first stuffed toys she was given (by a dear friend of mine who died when her children were young) was a small owl, nicknamed, of course, ‘Owie’. This was an appropriate gift since,  when this friend and I were both pregnant with our first children –Gill and her daughter– we spent time birdwatching. The most memorable time was an evening walking in a wood looking for owls.  Owie has had pride of place in Gill’s room for all these years and, this summer, relocated to Bristol with her. He sits proudly in her flat, seemingly unaware that he is now an expat owl, providing Gill with another loving touch of home.

Perhaps it’s the large, round eyes of owls that so fascinate Gill. Or perhaps the way they can swivel their heads to see what’s behind them. (In that sense, perhaps like me, The Mom. She claims I have always had eyes in the back of my head. All mothers do…does she not know that by now?)

Whenever there’s a cute owl video on YouTube or a collection of Audubon pictures of owls on FB, I can rest assured I will receive a link to them. I should not have been surprised, therefore, when last week a picture of a huge Owl topiary popped up on my FB page.  It was not a topiary in the sense of being a trimmed evergreen in the shape of an owl. It was more like a float in the Rose Bowl Parade, a wire frame covered with flowers all in the shape of an owl. It was spectacular! The comment underneath was:”You need this for your front lawn, Ma!” Of course I do.

She even went so far as to post it to our neighbors’ FB page and urge them to get in on the owl project, pointing out to them that I have an entire stash of chicken wire in the garage, just waiting to be turned into this art project.

I must explain that these neighbors share our wacky sense of humor and dislike of stuffy people and ridiculous rules and regulations. When another cantankerous neighbor (whose identity remains unknown) complained to the city that their new decorative iron fence violated the city bylaws by and was obstructing the view of drivers around their corner (it wasn’t!), they had to remove the fence at great expense. This annoyed them. We spent many happy, productive hours on their front lawn during the removal, drinking wine and plotting how best to make a statement about our annoyance with ‘Neighbour Number One’s’ petty interference. We had many ideas but my favorite was to erect (pun intended) a phallic symbol on top of a boulder with a caption on it …or a hand with the middle finger saluting the culprit.

But when Gill suggested the owl topiary, it seemed the obvious choice. After all, who could object to a cute, flowery owl? It would offend nobody (sadly). But a much more diplomatic approach to the problem. You see? I knew I had a future in foreign affairs. Instead of sending drones and rockets, why not send our enemies a nice owl?

In the meantime, I’d better get working on the topiary. Gill will be expecting to see it when she arrives for Christmas. And, according to the stores, it’s almost Hallowe’en so Christmas is on our doorstep.