We’re under a winter storm warning tonight, with 6 to 12″ of snow predicted here and upwards to 20″ in The County. It will be heavy, wet, late-spring snow and there are reminders on the news to keep an eye on flat roofs and swiftly rising streams. I know spring is here, though, because today someone stopped to decorate The Owl.

Owl Baby!

The Kitteredge Brook Rd. Social Capital Owl has a long history; ten years ago I cut down a few small spruce out by the road and left one slender, straight trunk thinking I’d put a bird house there someday. (Spruce is a fast-growing tree here, and if you don’t get them young well, I have a few 70 footers in the garden already from that kind of wishful thinking.)  While I was pondering whether a bird house would be a good idea or not (cats? traffic?) someone came along and nailed a plastic owl to the top.

Not long after that, the owl sported a pair of child’s sunglasses and a very faded lime green bikini. As summer passed into fall a tiny straw hat appeared, a Common Ground Fair t-shirt (with an encore every year after the fair in September), a Halloween costume (my favorite was the pirate outfit complete with tiny parrot), and a Santa hat and wreath. When our son graduated high school the owl sported a tiny mortar board and tassel. Sometimes I go out and retrieve a decoration that is out of season or falling apart, but all the donations are anonymous – even furtive.

My personal feeling is that the good old days were anything but, and that social capital as a concept in modern society reflects nothing but wishful thinking by the formerly powerful and well-connected. I will admit, however, that it has worked wonders on a plastic owl.

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