Sunday, February 07, 2010

A New Man in Our Life

Alice getting attention from Hein first thing in the morning.

Let's face it. If you're single and have a Great Horned Owl who thinks you're her mate living in your house, dating becomes quite interesting. And the number of interested men is severely limited from the get go.

I met Hein Bloem in Holland in 2007. He was one of the organizers of the World Owl Conference, and I went to present a paper on Great Horned Owl vocalizations. I met him as soon as I walked into the hotel and felt like I had known him forever from the get-go. Then he came to the International Festival of Owls I coordinate in 2008, and we got along magnificently. So after my marriage ended shortly thereafter, we gave things a try and were very happy together.

Alice, however, didn't like being ignored and tried to pounce on his feet at least once or twice. But with 4,000+ miles between us, we most certainly didn't see much of each other, and although we were the best of friends and loved each other dearly, the relationship ended.

So I started seeing someone who lived just a little bit closer. Like one mile down the road.

Alice wasn't overjoyed with this situation either. At least three times she came downstairs to pounce on his feet. But over the course of several months she seemed to more or less get used to his presence. But he was pretty ambivalent about owls (how is that even possible???), and he wasn't looking for a serious relationship. In the meantime, my dear Dutchman had decided he was going to make our relationship work no matter how many times I told him no.

To make a long story short, I ended things with my neighbor and got back together with Hein. He spent a month here from the middle of December to the middle of January. This time we knew things would work out for us, but I was unsure of what Alice would think of the whole situation.

So crazy as it sounds, I spent lots of time talking to Alice, telling her Hein was coming, and that he was a good man. And when Hein and I would Skype, Alice often joined in. She hooted and Hein hooted back. It was a good thing.

When Hein arrived, he had the perfect mixture of respect and appreciation for Alice. He gave her her space at first, hooted with her, and just spent time with her (hours on end scrubbing the floor of her room!) Eventually he was able to put his forehead to her forehead to hoot with her.

I had no idea how close their bond was becoming until one evening when Alice was hooting on the hall railing. Hein leaned down and put his elbows on the railing, and Alice ran into his arms to be cuddled!! No joke.

A. Alice doesn't run to anyone for attention. B. Owls don't particularly like to be cuddled. But Alice did it. No less than three times (it might have been more.)

Like Hein says, all women like attention (feathered or not.) He's right. And we think he's the right man for us.