baby monkey riding mama

Once upon a time, this was going to be a post about adorable animals. It still is – but with a grand finale that rocked me to my core.

A week ago, we took the boys to the Minnesota Zoo and I fell in love with this baby snow monkey and her mama. They were inseperable – literally. When mama sat, baby nestled up against her tummy. When mama walked a distance, baby hung from her belly like this…

baby snow monkey riding under mama monkey

And the way that baby popped up on her back for a joy ride? ADORABLE. I think it’s soooo important to recognize little things that give us jolts of joy. For me, darling animals do the trick. So, that’s what I was going to write about, hoping some cute animal photos would put a smile on your face, too.

brown bear licking her paws and taking a swim
I knew I’d share this shot of Sadie the Brown Bear taking a swim and licking her paws. So cute, right? Even as we walked around the zoo, I was thinking about this post – how I’d tell you that I think animals are powerful, how certain ones just capture my heart.

Things got busy and I didn’t have a chance to upload my photos last week, but the idea for the post remained top-of-mind. When Daisy walked into the room wearing one of my necklaces….

daisy the dog wearing a necklace

I knew that would have to be part of the post! (silly boys!) And I was going to show you pics of this little chipmunk who entertained me and Tru for a half hour in our garage last week…

chipmunk on shelf in garage

I loooooove chipmunks and have since I was little, so it was a total joy to watch his acrobatics (he even climbed inside Tru’s toy dump truck until it started rolling off the shelf!). I started wondering if this post might have a deeper meaning…if I should write about our relationships with certain animals…how sometimes they are messengers for us, how creatures we feel a special connection with keep showing up in our lives for a reason.

And then, friends? It was like the universe nodded a giant YES.

My animal encounters went from adorable…to amazing.

Several days ago, I was working on something in the kitchen when I heard Tru whisper my name. He was pointing out our back door with wide eyes at two gorgeous deer who had appeared in our yard.

beautiful deer in backyard, via

Now, I know some of you see deer all the time. But here, in a busy residential area? We don’t. I’ve seen deer here one other time in the eight years we’ve lived here; it was right after my dad died and I sobbed the whole time they stood in our yard, feeling a deep connection to them…and to him. A few days ago, it was not lost on me that they appeared again during the week of my dad’s would-be birthday.

I grabbed my phone to snap a picture. That one there just looked at me for the longest time, our eyes locked, our hearts probably beating equally fast. Her visit felt meaningful…spiritual. Do you know that feeling? Time seems to stop for a moment and you just feel…this is sacred. That’s what it was like.

But then – something else happened last night at dusk. The craziest connection with an animal I’ve ever had – and I’m still buzzing from it. I heard the garage door open; Ryder and Brad had been at baseball tryouts. Ryder came in, but Brad didn’t; I figured he was out doing something in the yard. A few minutes later, the phone rang. It was Brad and all he said was, “Could you come out here for a minute, very quietly?” Oh God – my mind raced. What could it be?

I told the boys to stay inside and practically tiptoed out the door into our garage – and saw a group of 10 or so neighbors standing at the bottom of our driveway, looking up at our house. I was petrified – what the heck was going on?? As I walked through and out the garage, no one said anything – but Brad pointed his finger up to the roof just above our garage door. I turned around and saw this:

barred owl on roof of garage

The crowd gasped because this gorgeous – and giant, I might add – owl had apparently been facing away from them, but turned around to look at me just as I turned around to look at her. HOLY SHIT. (And I mean every bit of that holy and every bit of that shit.) Have you ever had a wild owl…one a few feet away from you…look you in the eyes? My stomach dropped, my heart raced, my whole body buzzed – with fear, with shock, was awe. God, she was gorgeous.

Apparently, our neighbor Bonnie had just returned from a jog and was passing by our house when this magical creature swooped out of our front yard tree (what!? what was she doing there??) with an incredible wing span and perched herself up on our house. It took Bonnie’s breath away and she slowly backed up to get a glimpse of the owl. Other neighbors saw her…and then noticed this winged wonder…and they quietly congregated to watch. It chokes me up just to think of it – all these people just stopping whatever they were doing to come stand in awe.

I have no idea how long we were out there. A half hour? Longer? I slowly and quietly went inside to get my camera and when I came back, she turned to me again – as if to pose, as if to say…this is sacred.

owl at night, sitting on our house

The sun sunk below the trees, the sky grew darker. I made my way to the side of the house for another view. She would turn to look at me every now and then and every time, a chill would run through me. Finally, she lifted her giant wings and swooshed away into the night. I wanted to chase her, ask her why she came…and thank her. I want to know everything about her. 

When I look over this post and the animals I’ve felt so drawn to in just one week – the monkey mama and her baby, the big brown bear, my own crazy pup, the darling chipmunk, the otherworldly deer and the sacred owl – I feel their power, I sense their divinity, I see meaning in their presence. They are cute and precious, for sure – and so much more.

Have you had animal encounters that felt super meaningful? Are there messenger animals in your life – creatures who keep showing up and touching your soul or lifting your spirits? I’d love to know…