I decided to crunch over the ice-snow ridges on the driveway to get the mail. The noise came again, and stopped me in my tracks: an owl, hooting. And then, louder, lower, and further away, an answering hoot.
Silence. I got the mail. Paused, shivering at the garage door, heard the call and answer one more time, marveling at the unexpectedness. I couldn't decide if there really were neighborly owls, or if there'd been a prison break and the escapees were using owl calls as code. Regardless, I couldn't stand the cold any longer, and went inside.
Tonight, I did a little googling. Apparently, owls mate in January and February. This is prime owl courtship time. I never knew! I don't hang around outside much on January and February nights, because it's, you know, freaking cold. And the noises don't come through the windows at our house, I guess.
Anyway. Snow, stars and owl-love. Happy New Year, everyone.