by Jamie Lutton
I could not sleep; I was miserable, depressed, dark thoughts; I don't feel very well at night any more. I have had a grim fall; lost my father just a month ago, who I was very close to. I am plagued with bad dreams. So, I got up early, left my house before dawn. Watched this crow, at the top of this tall pine tree, cawing its heart out,with great volume, about two blocks from my apartment. I tried to lure it down to me; I stood in the middle of the road, and cawed back at it, and waved treats at it. Tossed a few on the ground.
But it scorned me, looking out over the city, cawing and cawing and cawing. It was cold, and raining a bit, and the top of the tree swayed in the wind. But the crow was on mysterious crow business, and had no time for me, cawing and looking out over the pre-dawn city landscape. This morning, I got up even earlier. I saw no crows at all; heard some peepings from some unidentified small birds, and some seagulls go by. They seem to rise first.
It was still rather dark out; at 7:15. This was the shortest day of the year; but the weather was good. It had rained overnight, like yesterday, but was not raining just then. Almost warm.
Overhead, I saw a group of crows flying south, about eight of them, up high, on some purposeful trip nothing to do with humans. They were croaking faintly to each other, as they flew. When I came around the corner, to get coffee, there were no crows about at all. It was still dark; all I could see were seagulls up high, crying out. I got my coffee, and chatted with the owner at the tiny drive-through coffee stand, and watched the sky. Suddenly, from several directions, crows appeared, and roosted in the top of this tree across the street from me, at the very top of the tree. They roosted close to each other,and as far as I could tell, were almost silent. They were croaking at each other, quietly, talking crow business, I supposing making plans for the day. There were at least 20 of them, roosting close to each other. I tried to get their attention; nothing doing. Nothing worked. I stood in the middle of the crosswalk, and stared at them; waived my arm. They were busy with their plans for world domination, or just planing their cribbage game later. Finally, after a good five minutes, a smaller, skinny crow, peeled off, and flew over my head, and stared at me, then another. I knew what that meant. I crossed the street ( I had been watching them from across the street, to see them better) and went around the corner. Threw out a couple of treats to the birds who had peeled off from the group. There was suddenly a flurry, and the whole group came around the building, to check me out. The usual hilarity ensued; with a black cloud of crows - and a few seagulls - fighting, flying, floating up and over the treats I threw out for them. I ducked inside the big grocery store to get my breakfast and lunch for my 12 hour day at work; when I walked over to the front door, one little fellow buzzed my right ear, then landed near my right foot. I threw him a treat at this feet, specially for him. When I came back out the front door, I had a welcoming committee of a few crows. As I walked to work, I threw out a one treat at a time, aiming them at specific birds who had gotten closest to me. Usually I threw handfuls of dog treats on other mornings, this made it a better game, as they had to be fast to beat their friends for the treats I threw. It was a greater challenge than when I threw twenty treats at a time; then everyone would get one. Also, I was walking down the main street, which they do not like as much; too many people, even at that hour.
I got to work; and only one lone crow was still with me, perched high up on a telephone wire, silent, staring at me. I threw him five treats, then went in to work, and to write this.
I now know I can get up before the crows, and watch their secret morning meetings. I know that I will never know all their business, or even a tiny fraction of it. Their games with people are a sideline for them; just
like me petting a dog or throwing sticks for it. That they get food from us is merely a hobby for them; I am sure that before people were in the New World; they had other rich sources for food, that were just a sideline to their important crow business.
I can only stare up, and speculate about what they are up to, before I begin my mysterious work for the day, that they might puzzle about, as they escort me to my place of work, hitting me up for dog treats, buzzing my head, staring down at me from telephone lines and trees.