Before the dinner hour, while city families were circling the lake a great horned owl sat high in baring trees. Its heavy sleepless head, indignant, swiveled at the crows, who wheeled and cried routine incredulous defiance. Off and on they'd perch, but not too long, or near. The owl seemed big as a wild turkey -- one disdaining plumes and fancy wattled throats. It was a weighty presence, warm and solid on the naked branch, a steady circling gaze. Grandmothers, and children holding uncles' hands approached to see if they could see its eyes glower at the foolish crows. We knew the eyes would be so fierce, so big and golden. Suddenly, the tufted head tilted like a mighty cat's to wonder down at us: an open-mouthed, exclamatory earthbound flock, with pompons on our hats, and wheels, ready to roll, beneath our boots and babies. Unimpressed but circumspect, as though to say ``No scenes,'' it swept a formal cloak of wings about itself, arose and vanished. Crows reclaimed their tree except, as if a splendid form still ruled invisible, not one possessed the place the owl had filled. Then we seemed to resume ourselves and wandered on.

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