Nodding off to sleep

Painted c.1950 by Sebilla Nora Pilley

Nodding off to sleep to the collective hooting of owls in Hazel Cottage, Sedrup Green, Magicshire.

As a very young chap in the early 1950s, there was a time, while the summer light faded, when I would gradually fall asleep to the hooting of owls.

Many, many owls, some nearby, others responding intermittently at a distance.

I was cosy under the huge dome of a delicious feather eider down, I used to call The Lump. My room was at the north gable end under the thatch. 

The cottage is at the edge of a tiny hamlet called Sedrup Green, a scattered group of wychert dwellings set loosely around a wildflower meadow cow pasture to be found after the No Through Road ended and a muddy track began. 

The hamlet and some of its cottages are listed on the Domesday Book map, which dates from 1186.

These raptor calls I learned from older boys to imitate by blowing between the thumbs of my cupped hands.

Their hooted conversations held a startling, timeless and inescapable otherworldliness.

I recall these memories, and I am once more lying very still – a small breathless boy with calloused knees and a head full of the wonder of the unseeable sound makers marking out the dark hedges of approaching night.

~ Love’s presence EveryNow

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