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.


Seattle Mamacita said...

love this thoughtful piece, so true how a tender gesture by something or someone we find creepy can change our views entirely...I will look at crows in a whole new way.

Alicia said...

You are so funny!
P.S. I love the word "harbingers"

Amy said...

ooo...who are your enemies???

Summer said...

I'm glad you have found a little love for the crows as I love them! I think they are beautiful and they remind me of my grandma carol who has always loved them. If I ever get over my fear of needles and pain, I will have a drawing of a crow tattooed on my arm.

Little Monkies said...

This is too weird. I wrote a poem while living in Seattle that started "I try to love the crow..." and went on about how much I don't love crows. Girl, sometimes I think we were separated at birth!

But this piece is so sweet. They sneeze? Now I may have to rethink this disdain I have for them...

The crow...well....but you, love you!

Pate Family said...

I had no idea birds could sneeze. Do you worry that maybe the crow's sneeze was an indication of some new "bird-flu" epidemic?

Anonymous said...

"the crows show up in droves"
a flock of crows is known as "a murder of crows"

Jeff Gregory said...

I'm not sure why yet or if I will ever really know.....but this is my all time favorite post I have ever read here.

Anonymous said...

Hi... how I found your posting: because the family of crows that has been with our neighborhood (mainly my for 15 years+ - one of the babies has a sneeze. I being their human parent was concerned so I was searching it out.
I love what you shared :-)
I must share with you of recent: Late July I was watching the family (5) King, Mama and 3 babies in the backyard... first baby flies down to the bird bath...does it's Daffy Duck impression of bathing (imagining that he is as happy as Daffy with a back scrubber in it's lil, when he was done... few moments later the second one makes its way for a bath.... I thought..."Hmmm did mom tell them it's almost time for bed - so bath time"? Sure enough the third baby had its turn...(nothing like already used bath water smile on it's But I must say - I have learned so much of these birds... with each passing year. Truly a family of love and characters that make you laugh. Most that don't like them are noticed by the birds - they really do know. Anyhow...I must get on with my searching out about the sneezing :-) Thanks for sharing. PS...King has a very distinctive and strong CAW, CAW, CAW and we hear our neighbor always say "Enough already" It makes us fact we mimic it much now and laugh when we hear the