Owls became one of Deanna's great passions in life and an important part of our journey together-not to mention our private economy. I suspect she'd always liked them, but they really got up close and personal with her when we moved to the country and discovered there was a family of Great Horned Owls living on our formerly deserted acreage. I noticed them now and then, but after we'd settled in I often saw Deanna out there with our binoculars watching their comings and goings. That was her signal encounter with the little ruffians, but there were many others. For example, one wintry day we were skiing across the countryside, with our St. Bernard lopping along behind. We stopped in a grove of trees to drink something hot from our thermos and there, sitting in a tree right in front of us, was a beautiful snowy owl. I remember that amazing sight very well, but I remember the look on her face even better.
The Great Horned Owls did not return to their nests on our acreage after our first summer there, but one sunny day I was wandering up the road when I came across a huge one sitting on top of some bales of straw on the other side of the barbed wire fence. I approached it to within ten feet and it didn't stir, so I ran back and fetched Deanna. She came with the binoculars and sat with it until a turkey inside the oven summoned her back to the house.
Early on during our sojourn in the country she fashioned a few small owls from clay, painted them with acrylics, and mounted them on pieces of old tree wood. (She actually fashioned them right onto the piece of tree first, then took them off and painted them before gluing them back into the tree bit.) You can see examples of these little owls in the "Small Stuff" section.
These small owls sold quite readily, and by the time we were accepted into the Artisan's Gallery at the Calgary Stampede, she was making and selling dozens of them every year. Like all her creations, these little tiny sculptures were all signed and dated. Sometimes her signatures are hard to spot on the smaller pieces, but they're there somewhere.
The owls slowly grew in size and then one day, years later, long after we'd moved to Medicine Hat, I began to notice that our house was slowly being taken over by a growing number of large owls-perfectly sculpted and beautifully painted clay replicas of the feathered beasts. They were very, very close to the real thing, except they were about 2/3 actual size. I soon discovered that they weren't going anywhere any time soon, and that more of them would be coming in to roost in my vicinity, because she'd decided to sculpt every species of owl in North America. Moreover, she planned to hang on to them until the series was complete. It took her a great deal of work, spread over four years, but she accomplished it.
When the work was done and the collection complete, Deanna and I, along with a representative of every owl in North America, traveled together to Red Deer Alberta where her vividly-realized creatures were displayed at a small show in a very nice nature gallery. There were a few other shows in our hometown for the amazing collection, but that's all. In spite of our best efforts there was no interest in the collection further afield, so the flock was decommissioned and some of them were sold.
The term "flock" was used at the end of the preceding spiel, but it should be noted that there are no flocks of owls. Owls are too smart to engage in flocking. When together in a group they are called a "parliament" of owls, a term more suitable for such august creatures. If should be noted that smaller species of owls don't engage in parliamentary sessions with the larger species-except when, on rare occasions, they're invited to dinner.
Eastern Screech Owl
Ferruginous Pygmy Owl
Great Grey Juvenile Owl
Great Grey Owl Mother
Great Horned Owl Juvenile
Great Horned Owl with Prey
Great Horned Owlets in Nest
Hawk Owl Juveniles