the crows come again, perch
within the remnants of summer –
turned to rust and rue;
they’ve come again
with their own narrative,
their inscrutable truths –
strike their own lines
against November’s sky,
while we try blindly (futile)
to navigate stolen darknesses;
fixed, and non-migratory –
roosting in huddled groups
for the long and empty winter
© Sarah Whiteley
-purple gracing black-
on the wood,
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these and perhaps it’s overdue?
Coyote and his mate (now called Magda) had no surviving offspring from the spring’s hatch. There’s really no telling what happened but I noticed more hawks than usual in the neighborhood, so that may very well be it. Of course, we have raccoons as well, who will think nothing of eating crow eggs, or even hatchlings.
We’re headed into the gathering time for the winter roost, and so I’ve got several crows who come along on walks with the dogs currently. But the two that are most present right now are Coyote and Knock-Knock. And it has been my pleasure most weekends to spend some time sitting on the porch with both of them. Coyote especially sits quite close on the porch railing and seems to like to hold a “conversation” with me. I keep trying to capture the little chortling and deep guttural noises he makes at me on camera – he makes them from deep in his throat and actually bends his neck so that his beak is nearly on his chest when he does the gutterals. I’m determined to get that on video one of these days!
I’ve been sitting out on the porch with the laptop, getting ready for NaNoWriMo and diving headfirst into research. I’ve noticed that if I’m not paying enough attention to Coyote, he will very boldly walk up along the railing behind me and knock his beak against the wood very loudly. The first time he did it, he startled the you-know-what out of me as I hadn’t even realized he was there.
Coyote has also started to show an interest in the toys Freyja brings outside with her. Yesterday, he tugged her blue stuffed dog across the parking lot while Freyja looked on. She didn’t seem too concerned that a crow was inspecting her toy – she’s so used to them now.
I never tire of these strange “friends” and their antics. I don’t even mind the occasional loss of a swiped lighter if it means I get to continue to observe them from perhaps just a little closer than most people have the opportunity to do so.
snippets from the past few days
the snowdrops have been stepped on by some unwary foot – they are closer now to mud than to sky – but the crocus persists and the daffodils are showing their greening tips
I had to side-step several puddles of blood on the sidewalk outside the office one morning while the police tried to tape them off – a man stabbed apparently kept right on walking – I felt like I could relate
I wake most mornings at 2 AM with my heart thrumming like a sparrow trapped in a 50 gallon drum – and it is the strangest sensation to feel empty except for the beating of frantic wings – on lucky days, that goes away
Knock-Knock has learned a new vocalization that somewhat approximates a soft bark, not unlike what Freyja sounds like when she calls the crows – I am intrigued and pleased by this
Coyote has been extra amorous with his mate, and in another few months, I will hopefully have a new blue-eyed fledgling or two that he will let me photograph
I briefly met someone at the office whom I strongly suspect is a very shy, closeted smart-ass – this makes me want to invite him to coffee so that we can enjoy the comfort of being smart-asses in like company
three gin & tonics and eight pieces of sushi with raucous friends is better than hours of therapy; a peaceful hour spent painting is just as good
for once my crows
(my noisome watchers)
ignore the shrill complaints
of a wheeling gull
and crouch instead
on snow-tipped branches,
giving way to the whims
of a relentless wind
I’d invite them in
(my boot-blacked friends)
but they’d tease the dogs,
pluck my bright beads
from the lighted tree
and delightedly unwind
every blessed color
in the overflow of yarn
instead I stay ensconced
in dog-warmed blankets
and startlingly bright socks
and watch them accusingly
hunched in what I imagine
is a crowish glare
willing the chill of winter
through my windows
© Sarah Whiteley
The poor crows! It’s bright and beautiful outside at the moment, but it snowed overnight and there’s a very insistent wind out there with a decidedly arctic chill to it. I was swamped by all 5 of Coyote’s family this morning on my walk and I was sure to give them plenty of treats. I think Freyja was a little offended when the father across the street said “look at the birds!” to his little daughter instead of the usual “look at the doggie in the pretty sweater!”
Today is the perfect sort of day for hot chocolate and my largest knitting project on my lap. From where I sit, I can see the crows coming and going, stopping outside my window to see where the rest of their treats are.
My nailbeds are a lovely blueish purple right now. The building has steam radiators which are controlled from the boiler room with a timer, the timing of which is still apparently being worked out. The dogs are curled up in the bed and Angus has taken to sleeping in a ball with his tail over his nose – very fox-like – in order to keep warm.
I’m about to pull on socks and shoes and my coat before I head down the hill to the library and return Denise Levertov’s collected works. I haven’t finished it, but it’s due soon and I’ve added it to my Amazon wishlist in case some lovely family member needs an idea for a birthday present next year.
I discovered recently that she actually transplated herself to Seattle at some point in her life and is buried in the cemetery where I often take long, peaceful walks. A couple weeks ago, I made it a mission to find her headstone and managed it quite quickly as it has a very distinctive sculpture on top of it. She’s not far at all from Princess Angeline’s (Chief Seattle’s daughter) resting place and she’s very close indeed to my favorite tree in the cemetery – a massive copper beech with the most wonderful purple-y russet leaves.
I’ve begun to do some temp office work while I figure out what I want to do and where I want to go. The uncertainty is a bit stressful as there are other forces at play which will determine what happens in the next 6 months. But change is stressful and I knew that would be the case. We’ll make it through.
The crows have missed their daily treats – I usually leave before they’re awake and get home after dark. On Friday, Coyote happened to spy me while I was waiting for my morning bus. He rushed over, stood at my feet, and scolded me for my absence. Unfortunately I didn’t have anything in my pockets to offer him, so he went away disappointed. But not before attracting the attention of the other people waiting on the arrival of a bus. Yeah – crazy crow lady reputation justified.
I’ve been squeezing in time to write and do my little watercolor sketches, though I prefer daylight for the latter so I’m afraid painting will be a weekend endeavor for now.
Off to the library! And then home to a hot, hot shower to thaw feet and fingers.
an expostulation of crows
unceremoniously drowned out
by the lawncare quartet –
mower, blower, chipper, and saw
they cling to the high sawara
in hunched recrimination
thinking, I think,
much the same as I
© Sarah Whiteley
Crow update? Well sure!
The crows are still in the midst of molting (or moulting for my UK friends). So they’re looking a bit scraggly at the moment. Added to that, their numbers are increasing as a precursor to the winter roosting so I’m at the time of year when there are no longer just 5 or so following me about, but 15-20. Most walks consist of me, two dogs, and an abundance of bedraggled looking, very vocal crows. This morning I had roughly 10 walking in close formation behind the dogs – it looked like I had my own feathered army. One woman stopped her car, leaned out the window after honking at me, and said “they’re very bold, aren’t they?”
I’m very pleased that I can still pick Coyote out of the bunch and more often than not the two babies from this year’s nesting.
A little farther north, Sorrow is still around and still comes swooping in for treats. He’s always been quiet for a crow and doesn’t demand or cluck or scold like Coyote does. I haven’t seen Mirth for several months now and I have to believe that either he’s gone his own way apart from the flock or he’s simply no more.
I’m enjoying my strange friends while I can. A move is on the horizon for me so I’m afraid my time with Coyote and his brood and with Sorrow is limited. I’ll miss them more than I probably ought to – silly, sentimental me – but will appreciate their raucous company while I still have it.
a truth-teller follows me,
skating from tree to tree
this morning his black
is ruffled by a stiff wind
and his message is more
raucous perhaps as a result
but even on quiet days
it is much the same
but one morning, he’ll cry
when he sees that I
finally get it
© Sarah Whiteley
Has it been a while since I’ve given a crow update? It has! There are signs that Coyote and his mate are nesting, but it’s not in the same spot as last year’s nest. Knock-Knock (last year’s offspring) has made himself scarce again lately – no doubt exploring the world. Coyote seems to have accepted the boyfriend and has even approached him when I’m not there once or twice.
The relationship between Coyote and Freyja-dog is an interesting one lately. Freyja knows not to chase the crows (but will chase pigeons!) and I think the crows have learned this. But lately Freyja has wanted to play with Coyote and engages in the typical doggy play invitation stances when she sees him. A couple of times, Coyote has crouched and hopped closer and then away as if teasing her. Crows are completely capable of play and I’m halfway wondering if he’s recognizing that’s what my odd little dog wants to do.
Had a lovely (albeit very breezy) breakfast on the side porch yesterday morning with Coyote for company. I managed to capture a video on the tablet of him asking for treats. About midway through, we get interrupted by a neighbor (who gave me very odd looks for clucking at a crow) and I had to pause until he went away, but you can see Coyote get anxious.
Anyway, here’s Coyote wanting his treats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FY26nP1Sb0M&feature=youtu.be