The bird’s wings scythed through the morning air imperiously as it locked its position over some ground prey, unseen, scuttling in the wildnerness below. The long arc of those wings; I had seen something like them before. An owl, perhaps, or a bird of prey, a falcon or harrier, a raptor. Was an owl a raptor? Experts would know the difference. They would say they would. An owl, wise. A raptor, terrifying, bloodthirsty. But this was just semantics. The prey, doomed, did not care. I continued on my way. Geese rose up from the water. A distant siren. Church bells.
A barn owl crosses the fields, just here, every morning at seven o’ clock, at this time of year. And sometimes a deer jumps out from the hedgerow. Church towers can be seen every mile or so, through the bare trees, on towards the horizon and the cold, cold sea. We are on our way somewhere, between here and there, between last year and next, burying our heads in congregations and congratulations. But we laugh and sing while the real news continues. We daren’t look. News at this time of year is always a tragedy. The rutted earth is frozen.