Thursday, March 19, 2009

For the Love of Crows

I've never had much good to say about crows. In fact, I actually count crows among the most loathsome of all creatures. I see them as nasty, garbage-eating creatures, harbingers of disease and parasites. They watch the world with shifty black eyes, as if they're just waiting for us to die so they can swoop in and eat out our eyes while they're still gooey.

I still resent the crows, ten years later, for waking me up-- with their incessant CAW CAW CAW--at 5 a.m. when I was on an otherwise fun camping/rafting trip. Wiping the sleep from our eyes and unzipping our tent, we viewed the evidence of the crows' past triumphs: various bottles, cans, and even a shoe had been flung into the tree above us, no doubt in an attempt to silence those cacophonous birds.

As much as I hate them, I often find myself watching crows as I'm waiting for the city bus. Garbage Day coincides with one of my work-days on the street where I catch my bus. Garbage Day means the crows show up in droves, and I imagine them saying "mornin' Joe," and "mornin' Frank, how's the missus?" as they swoop in, finding themselves competing yet again for the same garbage. I imagine Joe sneaking into Frank's nest that night, stealing his copy of the City of Seattle Garbage Pick-up Schedule in an attempt to eliminate the competition.

I imagine all of this as a source of waiting-for-the-bus entertainment, but I give no credit to the crows for occupying my thoughts. I glare at them with detached distain, thinking myself superior.

So it was, this morning, that I eyed a crow warily as it came close to me at the bus stop. The crow pecked foolishly at a pebble, thinking it a morsel of food. Then it stopped, raised it's head, coughed, and then sneezed.

You heard me right. It coughed-- a gentle little "cah cah" not amounting to a CAW, accompanied by a little nod of its head. Then it sneezed-- a dainty little "chuh."

I nearly offered it a tissue.

And just like that, my view of crows was transformed. For how can I hate a creature capable of producing a sound so reminiscent of my baby's first delicate little sneeze? Poor thing probably has Spring allergies like me, I thought. I continued to watch and listen to the crow, but it didn't cough or sneeze again.

Still, as I rode the bus to work, I felt strangely hopeful. For if my heart can open up to a crow, on the basis of a little sneeze, then surely my enemies have nothing to fear.