I was listening to a podcast of “To the Best of Our Knowledge” earlier this week about having a different perspective of how we view nature and the concept of wildness, how its danger persists and we are not the only apex predator and we forget this at our peril. Last night, it occurred to me that wildness is not restricted just to the wilderness, but can exist in the city as well.
I woke up last night around one and heard hooting outside. For once, it was not the little demon children of the neighborhood. When I opened the blinds, I didn’t see anything other than a cat trotting down the sidewalk across the street. Though he (or maybe she) didn’t appear to be in any great hurry, he looked behind him as he went. When he was under a streetlamp, I saw an owl swoop down toward him, and miss. Judging from his wingspan, if he’d made contact, I don’t doubt the owl could have carried him off.
There was no trace of either the owl or the cat when I went outside (in pajamas and flip-flops, I’m sure any neighbors who saw me think I’m nuts—they’re not wrong). There was no trace of foul play either.
We live close to Tower Grove Park, which is a Victorian strolling park in the middle of the city. A few years back, while running in the snow, I saw a red-tailed hawk perched in a tree. I’ve also heard stories of them trying to carry off small dogs. The world is wilder than we, or at least I, sometimes realize.