Saturday: who doesn’t love a Saturday? Usually best spent with the M&M’s (Museum and a Movie), your humble narrator decided to flip the script and head out to a park instead. Portland’s exemplary Forest Park, to be exact. And maaaaan, what a park it is. Over 5,000 acres and over 70 miles of trails, this place is big — beating Philly’s massive Fairmount Park by about a thousand acres. (For the record, Central Park in NYC is 843 acres.)
The place is totally impressive, a magical world submerged beneath a high-up canopy of trees…Douglas fir, western red cedar, western hemlock. Fallen trees are covered with more moss than I’ve ever seen in my life. Balch Creek is populated by Cuthroat Trout which roll in from the sea via the Multnomah Channel. How cool is that? Stuff from the ocean, found in the woods. Wild.
70 Miles of trails means one thing for your humble narrator: I got horribly lost. Not like Blair Witch Project Sun Going Down Oh Shit Now What Lost, but a little turned around. No thing, because I stumbled upon the Audubon Society of Portland, which is where we discovered our New Best Friend In The Entire World: Julio, the Great Horned Owl. The Audubon Society seemed completely abandoned save for two old men sitting on the porch arguing about salamanders, so I crept around back and found the cage where they keep Julio. As you may recall from previous posts, ever since my arrival in Portland I have been dying to see an owl. Although caged, Julio will do just fine. There he was, imposing and looking like a total menace in his cage, perched on a piece of wood, sleeping. Except not sleeping — Julio opened one eye just to check me out, before closing it again. If I made any noise he’d open just the one eye — like I wasn’t good enough for both? Or else this was reverse winking? — and then he’d close it again, not even interested in the plate of dead mice located below him. Goddamn he’s one beautiful bird! Julio! My friend!
Friend indeed. What struck me totally daffy was the fact that since my apartment is close to Fairmount Park this means I live within walking distance from a Wowl. Meaning that any time I want, I can put on a light jacket, lock up, shuffle down the steps, jump out the door and onto the sidewalk, head up the street, enter the woods, and be face to face with a GREAT HORNED OWL within minutes. This is amazing. This is fucking mindblowing. My life: now complete.
The sad thing was reading the story about Julio. Apparently he was found in a nest next to a cut down tree, without parents. The Audubon Society took care of him but by then it was too late — he had been around humans too long and so could no longer go back to Regular Owl Society. The line that got me was “Julio did not know how to be an owl.” Maybe the saddest sentence, like, ever? Well it’s okay, Julio, if you don’t know how to be an owl. You can still be my friend.