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Dreamed 1999/12/5 by Chris Wayan

A shy little burrowing owl invites her neighbor, an easy-going wolf, to come over for tea. She has a large burrow (maybe inherited from some larger creature) so he can squeeze in. She stammers and breaks off her sentences a lot, because she slips into Latin without realizing it, then repeats the phrase in, say, French or Owl, till she recalls the English for it.

But the wolf has known her for years, and he's used to this. He just lets her fuss and finish out her erudite, fractured thoughts, as she serves the tea, and he laps lazily--his mind as fluid as the tea.


It all sounds very Beatrix Potter, but recently it was found that some burrowing owls really will "timeshare" burrows (with SMALL mammals--obviously, wolves are way too big to fit in their burrows) on a seasonal or even day/nightshift basis, though I've never heard that they share food with their co-tenants.

Wolves, too, are surprisingly tolerant about guests who mind their manners. Farley Mowat, researching wolf-dens, one day crawled down what he thought was an empty burrow, to find the owner home--a mother with cubs to protect! Yet even when faced with an invader in her own den, she didn't attack him. She correctly read her trespasser's mood as scared, embarrassed, and apologetic--and let him crawl back up the tunnel without a bite.

"Red in tooth and claw", huh? Maybe Potter was right. And why not? She was a pioneering biologist as well as a writer and artist. She knew the natural world.

Do we?

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