Author Melissa Hart will be at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St. in Davis, at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, to discuss her new memoir, “Wild Within: How Rescuing Owls Inspired a Family.”
Hart, a resident of Eugene, Ore., is a nature and travel writer who teaches feature and travel writing at the University of Oregon.
But years ago, as a desperately lonely young divorcee and Los Angeles transplant, she found herself stranded in rainy Eugene, working from home in the company of her two cats and two large mutts.
At the local dog park, she met a fellow dog owner named Jonathan who invited her to accompany him on a drive to Portland to retrieve 600 pounds of frozen rats and a fledgling barred owl. Sparks flew.
Their courtship blossomed in a raptor rehabilitation center where wounded owls, eagles, falcons and other birds of prey take refuge and become ambassadors for their species. Initially, Hart volunteered there in order to “sink her talons” into her new love interest, but soon she fell hopelessly in love with her fine feathered charges: Archimedes, a gorgeous snowy owl; Lorax, a serene great-horned owl; and Bodhi, a baby barred owl with a permanently injured wing.
The couple started out convinced that they didn’t want children, but caring for birds who have fallen from their nests triggers a deep longing in Melissa to mother an orphaned child. Thus they embark on a heart-wrenching journey to adoption.
“Every page sparkles with vivid imagery and wit in this beautifully written memoir of parallel pursuits,” a news release says. ” ‘Wild Within’ is, above all, about the power of love — romantic, animal and parental — to save lives and fulfill dreams.”
Staff and birds from Davis’ own California Raptor Center will be present at the event.