I just had a primordial experience of a deep Northern winter night.
Coming back from a walk… out and around… I turned to look the large yellow crescent of the Moon was about to go down beneath the line of trees in the West, where the old forest rises up.
The snow from the recent blizzard was bright, drifted sharply here and blown to flatten ripples there.
I was standing very still and simply gazing at the moon.
After a minute or two my eyes had adjusted.
The stars were very bright in the clear sky.
There was some indirect light from around one of the outlying buildings.
I caught a dark movement.
An enormous winged apparition swelled, beating and bobbing larger and larger.
It was absolutely silent.
It came swiftly and straight on.
At about some dozen feet before me the now silvery shadowy mass wheeled and soared off into the black.
It was the largest owl I have ever seen.
I believe this night I saw Strix nebulosa… a Great Gray Owl.
I have heard a very large owl in the forest to the West. When it put on the brakes and wheeled the wingspan was a good 5 feet wide. Owls have perforated feathers so when they beat their wings they remain silent.
The startling cold and velvet depth of the sky. The silence and the setting Moon. The glow of the snow drifts and indirect light. The black shifting silver apparition.. larger … larger and then swooping away against the sky.
The darker black trees by then had drawn their claws across the upturned yellow crescent, and so I turned back for the house.
The fruits of standing still.