Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crows on my Mind

I read an article about the origin of different species of birds, recently. I discovered that all seven species of crows are thought by some crow experts to originate in Australia, something like 6-8 million years ago.

Probably the only species of animal from here that's gone world wide, I thought. It is like they flew against the prevailing inflow of other animals. Should be a story in that. They are such a maligned animal. Yet so smart.

They can certainly tell the difference, at the distance of at least 500 metres, between a man stepping outside his door carrying a rifle and a man carrying a stick or a man carrying a rolled up umbrella. I've been a witness more than once to them stopping their talk long enough to study the said man, fly off if it was a gun and continue their conversation after making sure it was an umbrella.

Crows are in my mind. They are waiting for a story, waiting until I find out more about their tribe. I do seem to remember them in fables. That'd be right. I guess because they are so elemental. I keep picturing a bunch of them like black holes cut out of the hot red landscape.

In the Outback there is a myth about crows, that they gather near a place where there has been a death and where a wake is being held. When I was still a city slicker, I scoffed over that story.

Then I lived in the northwest of Western Australia for a short time. A couple of dozen crows gathering in the trees next to a house where an unfortunate stepped early off his mortal coil. Many more birds were present in one place than the land thereabouts, even with the offal thrown out by the human population, could support.

Things I know about crows, facts and stories, are starting to shoulder their way into my awareness. Claiming a place on the front of the stove. I keep putting them onto the bench, to wait. I don't want to start any new research, however tentative, until I've finished at least the two short stories on the front of the writing stove.

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