BAR-NEY! …… BAR-NEY!!!! Hoooooooooooo! HOOOOOOOOOOO! The swish of air, the sound of magnificent flapping wings and as quick as we had called him, Barney was there.
When I was around 10 or so, my dad rescued an orphaned, baby Barred Owl from the woods. I have to believe that Barney felt right at home living inside our log home. To be sure, he was being fed some of the finest cuisine an owl ever did encounter! Fried chicken, biscuits, watermelon…the typical southern fare. Quite possibly, Barney was the envy of all feathered fowl.
While he enjoyed the finer things of life such as perching on our fridge and watching my mother make his dinner, naturally, he was attracted to the great outdoors as well. Once he was grown and no longer needed the “mothering” required to be independent, we let him outside to see what his preferences were. We quickly learned that while he took great delight in “going back to the wild,” it was just for a short visit. All we had to do was holler out… “Bar-ney!” and we would hear the “flap, flap” flap” coming from afar, and there he would be, landing on an out-stretched arm or shoulder.
One day we noticed something peculiar when he came home. His right leg was swollen and he favored the left. Over a period of time it became worse. Infected, it eventually began to rot. We treated and nursed the wound to no avail. Most likely, this had been the result of a copper head or rattlesnake. And so he became, “Peg-Leg Barney.”
Peg-Leg Barney was no different from before. He continued doing everything he had before with vigor and grace. He was a true testament to “overcoming the odds.” By this time he was fully grown, matured and had lived with us for quite some time. I remember coming home from school and I would look out towards the tree line and he would spot me and would swoop down to greet me.
My grandparents on my father’s side lived across our pasture about 1 mile as the crow flies. While I was closer to my mother’s side of the family, we would occasionally be graced with a visit from “Granny.” She was a character. A “piece of work” if you will. She was a large woman with her original hair color being a very deep auburn. I am told she was a stunning woman at one time and I am also told that I look EXACTLY as she did………………. :)
Cut to 40 years later. She is like 70 “ish.” As quickly as her money to the bingo hall had faded, so had her beauty…. Muu-Muu’s, slippers and a head of long, grey hair that was kept fastened by a bun smack on top of her head were now considered her beauty traits.
One day we are outside and we hear a “screech,” then we feel the “swoosh.” Was it Barney coming in for a landing?? No. Granny had just flew into the driveway in her brown Ford Maverick (which unfortunately we later inherited…) She made her way to the porch and plopped herself down on our porch swing. She is jabbering on about her fishing trip, except she never pauses for air or ends a sentence. Eventually she runs out of air and her last few words towards the end of her story begin to fade. “Where is that owl of youins? She begins to pick up speed on the swing, I am concerned it is going to break but I continue to listen because there is no chance of getting a word in edge-wise. “Holler’ for that-there owl.. I want to see it!” “BAR-NEY …. oh…BAR-NEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” While the swing is squeakin’ and Granny is still yappin,’ I see him. Barney has answered the call. With one leg a flappin’ in the wind, from across the meadow, there he comes. He picks up speed and with his head pointed in the direction of his target the “swoosh, swoosh” becomes louder and louder. Mercy! He is coming in fast, how will he land on my out-stretched arm? I am afraid of the impact to come when I realize… his target is not my arm. His target is…. GRANNY! GRANNY’S MAGNIFICENT bun!!!!!!!!!!! With porch swing at it’s breaking point and muu-muu flying to and fro… Barney makes his landing. Smack-dab in the middle of Granny’s bun.
I hear cursing, and stomping and I look up long enough up to see Granny from my place on the porch where I, along with the entire rest of my family had literally fallen to the floor laughing. What had previously been a controlled “hair-do” was now a nest. It had been ripped to shreds and bobby pins were flying. Granny was leaving and we were left there in hysterics. I know for a fact that I have never laughed that hard in my life and probably will never again.
I do not recall many visits from Granny after that. Shortly afterwards, “Peg-Leg Barney” decided that maybe his place in this world was not to reside amongst humans, but to be among his peers. However, domestication would always hold a place in his heart as we would call … “Bar-ney,! ” and he would answer back…. “Hooooooooooooo-Hoooooooooooooo!”