We’re told they would be found in the small thicket of Russian olive trees that lay beyond the edge of the campground. A promise that the trees would be thick with them. The wild patch of ground is thick with waist tall brambles and thistle. We gingerly pick our way through. There is no way to quietly trudge through the bracken, no way to sneak up on them without notice.
The trees seem empty, the leaves of the olive tree have grown brittle and the large green olives cling heavily to the branches. The air is still and silent. We stand below a grouping of several trees, holding our breath; waiting. Searching the tree limbs for the slightest movement, but the thicket is quiet and the branches are bare. A glance down to the ground at my feet reveals the secret. Several owl pellets litter the ground, white droppings paint the leaves of the tree nearby. We have found a roosting spot.
This is what we had come for, the ghosts in the trees.
A small flutter of movement draws our attention towards the branches above. A Barn Owl, with its ghost white disk of a face and coal black eyes, peers back intensely, holding our gaze. This is what we had come for, the ghosts in the trees. These amazing animals are creatures of the night. They hunt the grasslands and marshes using darkness as their cloak. During the day, they nestle into well hidden locations to sleep. Here, they use the brushy growth of the Russian olive trees to hide in plain sight. Their white, cinnamon brown and dark spots are perfect camouflage for the dense trees, making them invisible to man and predators alike.
We continue to bushwhack through the tall brush, our stumbling foot falls flush the barn owls from hiding and send them skyward on silent wings. Six or seven of these amazing creatures take flight as we make our way out of the Russian olive thicket. Each one as silent and mysterious as the one before. Ghosts appearing from the recesses of the trees and taking to the sky.
Fire Creek introduces The Ghost of the Trees series. Two tiles commemorating the intrigue of the Barn Owl. All tile designs are carved from original sketches and crafted from stoneware clay. The Ghost in the Trees series measures 6 x 8 inches and .25 inches in thickness. They pair easily with commercial tile or Fire Creek hand cut field tile. Choose hand painted as shown or one of our studio translucent glazes. Ghost 1 is currently available, Ghost 2 will arrive March 2020.
The Barn Owl’s Mate has now arrived!
When I look into the eyes of an animal, I do not see an animal.
I see a living being.
I see a friend.
I see a soul.
~Anthony Douglas Williams