We went looking for the owl every morning before school, when the fog crouched low above the narrow creek bed. At exactly 8:15 a.m., my husband’s son and I would leave our dark, empty house and plunge through the Midwestern dawn on our Regular Avian Expedition.
It started as we turned down Meadowbrook Road. Approaching the marshy clearing between two neighborhoods, we stretched our eyes for any glimpse of a bird.
Although I had married his father three years earlier, my stepson and I had not spent much time alone together until these trips to school began. As a stepmother who suddenly found herself in the business of some very real mothering to a 7-year-old boy, I came up with the search as a way to pass the time on the drive to school.
Here is what we decided: If we spotted the owl, it would be an extra-special good day. A day of great felicity. Soon the owl became a beacon of hope — a kindred spirit, with feathers, to narrow the valley between us.
We regarded the owl as a harbinger of all good things that undoubtedly awaited us: extra recesses, pizza on the school lunch menu, hearty email responses from editors saying “this is wonderful” and “will you write for us?”
Eventually, the joy in our morning came to rest on the paper-flutter wings of a bird.
We named him Harold.
Sitting with our socked feet touching on the couch, we read school library books about birds. We learned he was a barred owl, and that he was a resident, which meant he didn’t migrate south. “We are ornithologists, now!” My stepson and I hooted gleefully from the living room, flapping our arms and clapping our hands.
We studied his habits, observing that Harold preferred cold sunrises and dreary haze; we spotted him seven times in September and six more in October. On those mornings, we were not stepmother and stepchild, we were two jubilant explorers, clutching hands excitedly in the minivan as we approached his tree.
Dead, gray branches jutted from a decaying stump in the middle of the field, 30 feet away from the two-lane road. Immune to our exhilaration, on an Owl Day, he perched thoughtfully at the edge of the thickest limb.
“He’s there,” I said calmly, as though any excitement in my voice might startle him away. “Yes, yes,” my stepson whispered approvingly. And then, as we slowly moved along at 30 miles per hour with our windows down, we shouted praise at the owl for his commanding presence. Doesn’t he look majestic? Isn’t he handsome? Overjoyed and laughing, I was still conscious every moment of who I was and was not. This is not my child, in this car.
But when we saw the owl, this boy and I were of the exact same skin: pink in the cheeks and bright in the eyes. It was not quite 9 a.m., and frankly, anything seemed possible.
Then, suddenly in November, the owl was not there. Our winter coats were zipped up high on the ride to school. The tree seemed whiter, ghostly; the grass in the field was straw-brown. Fall in the Midwest often leaves as quickly as it comes.
And just like that, the owl, too, was gone.
Without him, the imminent possibility in our days seemed to fall away. Soggy green beans on the foam lunch tray, rejections from editors who once praised every word, and no one to sit with on a long field trip bus ride.
Without the owl, we were just two strangers in the car, brought together in the shadow of divorce.
When a month had passed without seeing him, I googled, “Do owls hibernate?” and searched the library books for clues.
“Maybe he’s just cold,” I suggested. “You never know!”
My step son stared at me skeptically from behind his dark framed glasses. “Maybe he’s dead,” he said flatly.
In late November, he started crying suddenly in the back seat as we drove down Meadowbrook Road. “I think my mom is going to get married again.” I stopped the van near the old, dead tree and scrambled over the seat to put my arms around him.
“Oh sweetheart, I know everything is changing so fast. But no one could ever replace you.” I was a not-mother, sort of mother, a half time surrogate, holding a boy I loved like a son, who was crying for the love of the woman who had carried him in the swell of her belly.
No owls in December.
And though we still scanned the sky above his tree as we drove past, we could not smother the hawkish rumble of winter in our bones.
“I don’t think he’s ever coming back,” my stepson announced, just before Christmas break.
“You never know,” I said, but my voice sounded hollow.
I suppose I did know. It took a while to figure it out.
Hope lives in the fibrous burrows of your heart, it lines the layers of your skin and folds into the corners of your eyes. It does not fly in on the feathered wings of a bird, nor does it breeze away with the November wind. Hope is blindness in the face of what you think you know, it is doing what you do not think you can do. It webs itself between the consoling words you whisper into the neck of a grieving child.
Sometimes hope hides itself completely. And because you cannot touch it with your hands, when hope seems lost, you might not know when you have found it again. Until one cold morning you realize it’s there, bubbling in your voice and twinging the tips of your fingers.
I bought my stepson a stuffed snowy owl for Christmas, fluffy and white. His plume was a smattering of tan feathers; yellow eyes sat high in his head. “Did you know that owls can turn their head all the way around, Nicole?” he asked me, wrapping his sticky hands around my neck.
“I didn’t know that!” I thought for a moment. “Did you know that snowy owls migrate through Michigan?”
“I wonder if they ever stop around here,” he considered, thoughtfully.
“I hope so,” I said.
Step-mothering is a journey with heavy baggage. I have learned so much about the weight and pull of chosen love, how divorce reaches its hand into a family and asks everyone to change. It’s a different kind of love, that of a stepmother and a stepchild — it works on its own time.
Maybe the owl was a gift we gave to each other, until my stepson and I figured out how to be something more than strangers in a car, cemented together by marriage. And now that the owl was gone, it was up to us to find a new way, together.
“Do you think the owl will ever come back to see us?” my stepson asked in late January, as we passed the empty tree.
“Why not? We are pretty wonderful people,” I responded, keeping my voice even and bright.
“Yes,” he said, staring out the window into the frozen morning. There was a feather of possibility between us still. I could feel it as his voice floated from the back seat just above a whisper. “I guess you never know.”
Nicole Jankowski is a writer and journalist based in Detroit.B:
皇姐九肖“【夜】【魔】【分】【部】、？” “【对】，【行】【动】【很】【迅】【速】，【似】【乎】【是】【早】【有】【准】【备】【的】，【早】【几】【天】【就】【已】【经】【开】【始】【施】【工】【了】，【看】【来】【他】【们】【打】【从】【一】【开】【始】【就】【认】【定】【此】【行】【高】【原】【必】【破】。【我】【还】【听】【说】，【夜】【魔】【一】【族】【那】【边】，【已】【经】【重】【新】【找】【到】【了】【尖】【耳】【族】【的】【遗】【址】。”【凯】【特】【突】【然】【面】【露】【神】【秘】【之】【色】，“【不】【过】【你】【们】【猜】【猜】【结】【果】【怎】【么】【样】？” “【怎】【么】【样】？” “【一】【夜】【之】【间】，”【凯】【特】【故】【意】【将】【气】【氛】【搞】【的】
【鸠】【摩】【智】【的】【等】【待】【还】【是】【有】【用】【的】。 【不】【知】【道】【是】【觉】【得】【他】【死】【定】【了】，【还】【是】【觉】【得】【大】【橘】【已】【定】，【反】【正】【幕】【后】【黑】【手】【出】【现】【了】，【是】【一】【个】【老】【的】【掉】【牙】【的】【老】【头】【子】。 【如】【果】【穿】【越】【者】【同】【学】【在】【的】【话】，【就】【会】【从】【慕】【容】【复】【的】【记】【忆】【里】，【得】【知】【这】【个】【老】【头】【子】【的】【身】【份】——【燕】【子】【坞】【里】【的】【一】【个】【厨】【子】。 【这】【个】【厨】【子】【姓】【顾】，【名】【字】【是】【什】【么】，【就】【不】【清】【楚】【了】。 “【嘿】【嘿】……”【顾】【老】【头】【看】【了】【眼】
“【族】【里】【对】【此】【事】【自】【会】【要】【有】【安】【排】，【完】【全】【不】【需】【要】【少】【主】【您】【亲】【自】【出】【手】【的】“【白】【宇】【也】【不】【诧】【异】【自】【家】【少】【主】【知】【道】【族】【里】【的】【想】【法】。 “【那】【不】【就】【得】【了】，【我】【就】【去】【看】【看】【热】【闹】，【绝】【对】【不】【出】【头】。【您】【们】【办】【您】【们】【的】【事】，【我】【看】【我】【的】【热】【闹】，【绝】【对】【互】【不】【打】【扰】“【摊】【了】【摊】【手】，【隐】【无】【双】【一】【副】【你】【完】【全】【不】【用】【管】【我】【我】【就】【是】【打】【酱】【油】【的】【表】【情】。 “【少】【主】.“【隐】【无】【双】【的】【油】【盐】【不】
【至】【少】【旁】【边】【看】【着】【的】【君】【九】【倾】【和】【帝】【夜】【冥】【两】【人】【对】【这】【样】【的】【情】【况】【是】【非】【常】【乐】【的】【看】【见】【的】。 【澜】【若】【虽】【然】【失】【去】【了】【很】【多】【的】【记】【忆】，【可】【是】【骨】【子】【里】【的】【聪】【慧】【和】【强】【大】【从】【来】【不】【容】【忽】【视】，【比】【起】【鏻】【天】【昊】【来】【说】，【她】【似】【乎】【在】【处】【理】【事】【情】【上】【会】【更】【加】【的】【冷】【静】，【而】【一】【些】【武】【断】【的】【事】【情】【则】【是】【需】【要】【鏻】【天】【昊】【来】【处】【理】。 【一】【个】【威】【逼】，【一】【个】【推】【波】。 【两】【人】【与】【解】【家】【的】【谈】【判】【将】【会】【是】【一】【个】【非】【常】【复】皇姐九肖【中】【国】【山】【东】【网】-【感】【知】【山】【东】【潍】【坊】11【月】10【日】【讯】【为】【让】【来】【华】【留】【学】【生】【更】【好】【地】【了】【解】【山】【东】、【关】【注】【山】【东】、【融】【入】【山】【东】，【展】【现】【繁】【荣】【发】【展】、【开】【放】【自】【信】【的】【新】【时】【代】【山】【东】【形】【象】，11【月】9【日】【至】10【日】，【由】【国】【家】【留】【学】【基】【金】【管】【理】【委】【员】【会】【指】【导】，【山】【东】【省】【人】【民】【政】【府】【新】【闻】【办】【公】【室】、【山】【东】【大】【学】【主】【办】，【济】【南】【市】【人】【民】【政】【府】【新】【闻】【办】【公】【室】、【潍】【坊】【市】【人】【民】【政】【府】【新】【闻】【办】【公】【室】、【中】【国】【山】【东】【网】【联】【合】【承】【办】【的】“【感】【知】【中】【国】•【活】【力】【山】【东】”2019【百】【名】【中】【国】【政】【府】【奖】【学】【金】【来】【华】【留】【学】【生】【社】【会】【体】【验】【活】【动】，【邀】【请】【一】【百】【余】【名】【中】【国】【政】【府】【奖】【学】【金】【来】【华】【留】【学】【生】【走】【进】【济】【南】、【潍】【坊】【两】【地】，【近】【距】【离】【感】【受】【山】【东】【经】【济】【社】【会】【发】【展】【成】【就】。
【却】【说】【这】【第】【三】【路】【人】【马】，【便】【是】【相】【思】【涯】。【钟】【若】【寻】【不】【意】【外】【地】【在】【他】【们】【的】【队】【伍】【里】【看】【到】【了】【古】【蔚】【的】【身】【影】，【其】【位】【置】，【赫】【然】【是】【队】【伍】【的】【最】【前】【方】。 【令】【她】【惊】【讶】【的】【是】，【方】【才】【那】【些】【人】【所】【说】【的】“【古】【家】【太】【上】【长】【老】”【并】【未】【出】【现】，【而】【古】【蔚】【的】【修】【为】，【显】【然】【已】【经】【是】【地】【灵】【王】【级】【别】。 【虽】【说】【这】【地】【灵】【王】【的】【水】【分】【十】【足】，【一】【看】【便】【知】【是】【近】【期】【催】【生】【出】【来】【的】，【但】【其】【体】【内】【的】【能】【量】【还】【可】【以】
“【白】【起】……” 【佛】【祖】【侵】【占】【了】【白】【起】【的】【身】【体】【之】【后】，【迅】【速】【以】【慧】【眼】【洞】【察】【了】【他】【的】【前】【生】【今】【世】、【前】【因】【后】【果】，【稍】【作】【斟】【酌】【后】，【道】：“【是】【你】【诸】【多】【诱】【饵】【之】【一】？” 【科】【技】【之】【神】【淡】【然】【一】【笑】，【道】：“【说】【诱】【饵】【就】【太】【难】【听】【了】，【准】【确】【地】【说】【是】【实】【验】【品】，【为】【了】【确】【保】【我】【的】【新】【游】【戏】【能】【够】【顺】【利】【上】【线】【而】【做】【的】【一】【个】【小】【小】【实】【验】。” “【新】【游】【戏】？”【佛】【祖】【摇】【摇】【头】，【道】：“【你】【是】
【墨】【白】【有】【幸】【摸】【了】【一】【把】【二】【哈】【柔】【顺】【的】【皮】【毛】，【二】【哈】【真】【的】【好】【好】【看】。 【瞧】【瞧】【这】【湛】【蓝】【的】【眼】【睛】，【看】【着】【都】【觉】【得】【心】【动】…… 【但】【是】【怎】【么】【看】【都】【觉】【得】【它】【挺】【欠】【揍】【的】，emm~【可】【能】【是】【错】【觉】。 【不】【得】【不】【说】，【这】【条】【狗】【的】【主】【人】【把】【这】【条】【狗】【养】【的】【很】【好】【啊】~ 【膘】【肥】【体】【壮】，【皮】【毛】【光】【滑】，【闻】【着】【都】【没】【有】【狗】【的】【腥】【臭】【味】【道】…… 【就】【是】【这】【样】【子】【莫】【名】【的】【欠】【揍】【就】【是】【了】。 【不】
【两】【人】【都】【是】【初】【次】【恋】【爱】，【每】【每】【相】【处】【眼】【神】【对】【碰】【都】【能】【撞】【出】【火】【花】。【初】【尝】【相】【互】【喜】【欢】【的】【甜】【蜜】，【让】【小】【情】【侣】【恨】【不】【得】【天】【天】【黏】【在】【一】【起】。 【但】【是】【工】【作】【太】【忙】，【两】【人】【又】【不】【在】【一】【所】【学】【校】【教】【书】，【方】【音】【中】【学】【与】【离】【华】【高】【中】【相】【隔】【差】【不】【多】【有】【百】【里】，【坐】【车】【需】【要】【两】【三】【个】【小】【时】。 【两】【人】【只】【能】【在】【周】【末】【共】【聚】，【忙】【起】【来】【的】【时】【候】，【周】【末】【也】【见】【不】【上】【面】。【茉】【莉】【妍】【除】【了】【教】【语】【文】，【还】【当】【班】【主】