As ever, there’s no real way to discern why I get obsessed with certain topics. There are just some things that really catch my fancy, that I do not tire of thinking about or imagining. Owls, for one.
There’s been a fair few videos making the rounds of the interwebs, showing owls being petted and stroked. The owls don’t just enjoy it, they nearly melt with happiness. I watch these videos obsessively and frequently. I keep pressing replay, particularly when I’m having a not-so-great day at the office. There is something immensely soothing about watching a little owl turn to goo. These videos of course lead me to thinking about how nice it would be to pet an owl myself, which then of course leads me to considering how I might go about getting a pet owl for myself. Which leads me to some strange places on the internet, and multiple emails from The Mom that start with, “Now I know you want an owl, however…”
I feel I had very little to do with acquiring an interest in owls. There is the stuffed owl that The Mom’s bestie gave me, who does now sit with me in England, on my sofa, watching over me with a pathetic and pitiful face, an expression that’s a good mix of confusion and concern, the sort of thing I relate to well.
My love of the mighty owl has been further encouraged by gifts over the years. Way, way back in the day, when I worked as an assistant in ad sales at the Guardian, our rep in Japan sent me a gift to inspire me and shepherd me through my PhD. It was a set of cloisionee owls and they go with me – well, some of them – wherever I go. Upon leaving my previous job in London, a good colleague also gave me an owl, which seemed fair as I sent through a link to something owl-related at least once a week.
Anyhow, my love of owls is growing as I believe everyone else’s is too. Recently I saw these owl sculptures in some kind of fancy garden in Taiwan. They were massive, bigger than an adult, and made of flowers. The Mom has been grousing about one of the trees in her front yard and how it has to be cut back so as to not cause traffic accidents. The Mom hasn’t been keen on doing this, but I have gone above and beyond the call for being helpful, having suggested several ways of incorporating an owl-theme into the general look and feel of the yard.
“Come on,” I’ll announce. “We’ll just turn that tree into a giant owl topiary.”
“We do not have the skills required to achieve this,” The Mom would reply.
“True, but we have the interwebs. Therefore we can teach ourselves.”
“How has that worked for you before?”
“I can cook now, though the bow-tie tying isn’t going well.”
“I don’t think we can learn to cut the tree-bush thing into an owl. That’s got failure written all over it, and worse yet, the neighbours will see our shame.”
“It’s an owl! It’s not like it’s an involved shape!” I’ll cry.
“We don’t even have the right tools!”
“How did you intend for me to hack it back to size in the first place?”
“I was planning on calling someone to do it. Someone who will come with things. A ladder, a sharp cutting implement.”
The Mom had a point, but my desire to have a series (and I don’t mean just one or two, I mean several, possible a lot) of owls on the front lawn was in no way curtailed by things like practical facts.
So when I came upon a floral owl, I felt it was the only thing we would ever need again. “Think of Mrs. Beeton and how much enjoyment she’ll get out of it”, I told The Mom, knowing that in our house it’s much more likely to happen if it benefits a pet.
The Mom sounded like she was willing to be convinced, but then at the last minute the neighbours, who I’d dragged into the chat on Facebook, piped up: How is this thing made? Where are the instructions?
I love the neighbours, but sometimes they’re too interested in things like instructions and plans for me. These are large sculptures made of flowers. I mean, who needs directions for such a thing? Don’t you just make one?
Anyhow, interest is waning at home. But if there isn’t much snow on the ground by the time I rock up for Christmas, I’m going to hash out the basic metal structure and compile elaborate plans for which flowers ought to go where, so that, come the great melt, The Mom can just nip out to the flower shop, populate the frame, and voila! A giant owl flower sculpture to sit amongst the crop circles and unintentional daises. Everyone in the neighbourhood will be green with envy, obviously. And maybe The Mom will win some kind of neighbourhood achievement award for creativity in landscaping. If nothing else, it’ll surely cement her claim to being the Crazy Bird Lady of the neighbourhood.