As I understand it, northern states are seeing an “irruption” of snowy owls. Irruption being the scientific word. I know this thanks to WBUR’s All Things Considered, source of interesting tidbits as well as in-depth journalism. According to the story, lemmings, small furry creatures who have a false rep of throwing themselves off cliffs, are the source of the migration. An overbundance of lemmings, food stuff for the owls, led to an overabundance of owls. So they expanded their territory.
The part that really caught my attention: kids are getting excited about the owls. They’ve not suddenly become naturalists. They want to see a real life Hedwig. In the same way that J.K. Rowling popularized Neapolitan Mastiffs (Fang), she created a larger than life snowy owl. And they are already pretty darned impressive without the magic. With five foot wing spans and a bit of a cocky attitude, the owls are well suited for harsh artic life. When they show up in fields in our northern states, they rule.
J.K. Rowling rules as well. With buzz this week about a potential Nobel Prize coming her way, she is headed for the stratosphere. This is where I admit that I have only read the first of the Harry Potter books. I am surrounded by fans who camped out to snatch up each successive volume; fans who read and re-read the hefty books. Personally, I gravitate toward magic in form of the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who did win the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature, or captivating Massachusetts author Alice Hoffman.
I am mesmerized by Rowling’s expansive storytelling and brilliant vision. Her choice of bigger than life animals-the mastiff and the snowy owl–allows us to see the magic around us. We don’t need to find Hogwarts–we simply need to see an owl that has strayed south. That’s magic enough for me. For the children who are Harry Potter fans, the irruption is magic come to life.