I blew it.
Yesterday was my owling-with-experts opportunity and, despite my best intentions, I totally blew it.
I was so prepared. I had layers upon layers of clothes all laid out the night before, my thermoses ready to fill with hot coffee, and even got myself to sleep before midnight with my alarm set for 4:45 a.m. – plenty of time to get dressed and drive to the meeting spot in Christiansburg by 5:20 a.m., the appointed meeting time.
And at 4:45 a.m., I hit the snooze button. Apparently, I also hit it at 4:54 a.m., 5:03 a.m., and 5:12 a.m..
I woke with a start at 5:17 a.m. – panic!
I immediately sent a bleary-eyed email to my Christmas Bird Count circle coordinator: “Overslept! Be there ASSAP!”
The misspelling of ASAP could have been just a typo, but I think it’s more Freudian than that – I truly felt like a jackass.
I dressed and brushed and brewed at lightning speed (accidentally waking my daughter with my heavy, booted footsteps in the process – I kissed her head and sent her to take the warm spot I’d left in my bed), gathered my things and rushed to the car. I paused only long enough to let my eyes adjust to the dark of a moonless morning, which was necessary to prevent me from falling down my own front steps.
I wasn’t fast enough, though – I didn’t arrive at the meeting spot until 5:42 a.m., 22 minutes late. There was no one there. I didn’t blame them – you don’t stand around waiting in 23 degree weather, you get going. They had gotten gone.
I was crestfallen. I made two calls to see if I could get in touch with someone who knew where they’d gone, but the numbers I could find were all home phones and I could only leave messages.
I was home and asleep almost exactly an hour after I’d woken up.
When I woke again hours later and well after sunup, I was still a little sad, but I’m talking myself out of it.
That’s the thing about nature – there are always going to be missed opportunities. Whether it’s not being quick enough with the camera to capture the critter you see or having two weeks of rain squelch any hiking plans at the beak of autumn colors or being too friendly with the snooze button – there are always going to be plenty of missed moments.
The only way to keep your chin up is to know that, at least where nature is concerned, the season will roll around again, and the next opportunity may be different, but it will come.
I will see an owl this year, as I said in my previous post . . . just maybe not this calendar year. But I’ve got 366 days (leap year!) and a whole lap around the sun to make it happen.
New opportunities are always just around the bend. Nature is just cool like that.