The Birdman of Aberdare

In which The Author sees the weirdness continue to build

On Monday I needed to make a phone call, so I took my mobile into the back garden. The reception in my house is unreliable at best, and it was a bright and mild autumn morning to stand outside.
I left the kitchen door open while I was on the phone. My back ‘garden’ isn’t really the grand vista the name might lead you to imagine, by the way. It’s more of a yard, with some very overgrown shrubs, a small pile of stuff which I keep meaning to sort out, and a shed with the door hanging off. It’s also a favourite rendezvous for the neighbourhood cats – which is why I very rarely get any visiting birds. They’re usually limited to the odd jackdaw dancing on my kitchen roof, and the occasional sparrow or thrush passing through.
It’s a total contrast to my mother’s garden, which is a haven for wildlife. Mine’s more of a concrete desert, really
That’s why I was amazed to walk back into the kitchen and find a robin cheekily perched on top of my stacking saucepans. It didn’t give me a second look, but just carried on swooping from perch to perch while I was watching it. I had to go out shortly afterwards, and I didn’t fancy chasing a bird around my house for a while. Instead I left the kitchen window open, guessing (correctly) that it would make its own way out when it had finished exploring.
I made a comment about the fact on Facebook, and Kristy M. replied immediately. She’s been interested in spiritual matters for as long as I can remember. She told me that the robin is a symbol of growth and development – exactly what I hope my proofreading business will experience in the future.
Janette L. also commented on it. She said that a visiting robin was often the spirit of a departed loved one. I’ve got a long list of possible candidates for that one.
Anyway, on Monday evening I was finishing off the proofreading of my first big project (not counting The Men Who Marched Away, of course). It was already dark outside. I heard a loud thud from the front of the house and went to investigate.
It sounded as though someone had thrown something heavy at (or possibly fallen against) my front window. There was no sign of anyone in the street, so I returned to the pages, a little bit baffled.
When I eventually decided to turn in, I discovered what the noise had been. An owl had flown into my bedroom window, and left a ghostly outline of its face and wings on the glass. (I tried photographing it last night, but it was a waste of time.) I’ve heard of such things happening, but I never imagined it would happen at my house. I assume that it must have been making its way from Aberdare Park, a short flight over the houses opposite mine, and been confused by the darkness through the glass.
I’ve only ever seen owls a handful of times, and I’ve always been very excited when I catch sight of one in flight. A tawny owl became our lucky mascot when I was playing for The Blossoms quiz team back in the day. We were making our way into the Brynffynnon pub (Llanwynno) when an owl hooted from a tree in the churchyard.
‘The owls are not what they seem,’ Liz P. said, referring to a famous line from Twin Peaks. Owls are traditionally associated with wisdom, so we decided that it must have been a good omen. We were right – we notched up our biggest win of the season that night.
It’s strange that a robin (change, growth) and an owl (wisdom) should choose to invade my house on the very same day that I completed my first full-scale commercial proofreading assignment.
In spite of my scientific background, after a sequence of strange events over the last decade or so I tend to keep an open mind on things these days. Six months ago I was ready to throw in the towel. Now, I’ve just embarked on the most exciting thing that’s happened to me since Brain of Britain, and that in turn was the most exciting thing that happened since I returned to university. Growth and development indeed!
Today would have been Dad’s 87th birthday. I’ll never be able to tell him about my successful foray into the real world of proofreading to his face, of course. The same goes for all the other family members I’ve lost in the last fifteen years. All the same, did Dad (or one of the others) suddenly look in on me on Monday morning, just as I was coming to the end of my first big job?
I hope Kristy is right, and Monday’s avian visitors were the signs of a change in my life. I hope Janette is right too, and Dad (and the rest of the family) are keeping an eye on me. Who knows, eh …?
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