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Sunday, December 6, 2009


find the crow

This morning at 7:30 it was 13 degrees. Rose to freezing and is on the way back down. The sun was out today and melted some of the snow on twigs and narrow limbs, but not a great deal. It was a beautiful day with the air too cold to let the snow melt in full sun all day. It was a quiet day. It seems like snow absorbs sound so it doesn't travel well. I love a snowed-in day when I can never entertain a sentence in my mind that starts, I gotta. It's not like this is a snowed-in day by any means unless you're an ant.

I stayed indoors with TarBaby. Got up early because I wanted some Kenyan coffee, on the condition I'd take a nap later. I think I know now what Lucas meant when he told me the African and Middle Eastern coffees had an earthy quality. I intuitively knew what it meant, but not literally. I've found what it is, actually the first thing I noticed first taste. It has a smooth flow. I like that quality in it called earthy.

It's different from what I think we call richness in coffee. Richness seems to have an aromatic quality the earthy lacks. Turkish tobacco has an earthiness about it Virginia tobacco smooths in a blend. Kenyan and Colombian coffees are both grown at and near the equator. A hothouse flower the coffee tree is. Kenyan people that live around the coffee plantations supply the workers. Buying the coffee, I throw a few cents around the globe into someone's livelihood.

On the radio, New Dimensions, which I've not listened to in several years. A woman talking about crows caught my attention. I was hoping she'd say something interesting about them, and she almost did, then she didn't, almost did, then didn't. Sounds like a valley girl you might see at a cocktail party after an author's reading, talking with a clear plastic cup of white wine in hand, chattering with the emphatic awe of someone mystified by the obvious. Had to turn it off. She's published a book about crows, like she watched crows and studied their behavior more closely than I did at Jr's. I was hoping to hear her say something about the crows I hadn't noticed, like maybe something about their language. They definitely have a learned language the youngsters are not born knowing.

I miss my crow friends at Jr's. They know everything has changed. Three days of strange cars and pickups parked there. A lot of humans going in and coming out of the house. Jr's car gone, my truck gone, and all that's left is Old Yeller with a dead battery. No more apple slices and kitchen scraps. They were all one family, a rooster, hen and 5 chicks hatched in the spring. I was surprised by them every day once I started paying attention to them.

I expect the tribe of crows here at Air Bellows is a different tribe from the crows in Whitehead. That's 4 miles by road, but by crow it's half that, hardly anything. Friday, driving back from town along Air Bellows Gap Road in Whitehead, late afternoon, a hundred or more crows took off from that hillside lawn in the curve with the double-wide at the top when I came into sight. The lawn must have been black with them. They flew up into the trees and some flew a little distance, but none flew far. They were intent on reassembling when interference was gone.

I've put apple slices out to see if they can attract any crows. A young squirrel has taken up close by and got the apple. Another time, a deer found them first. Today I walked over to the cabin of my friends the Carpenters to get some pictures of the snow lines on tree limbs from their deck. I got 3 or 4 pics to email them. Then a cacophony of crow caws went off like an explosion. Crows flying in the woods not far away, hollering, IT'S A HUMAN--LAST ONE OUTTA HERE'S DEAD!!! They went on and on, sounding like they were in shock they'd not seen me approach the house, that the human penetrated their zone unnoticed. It was such a frenzy of calling, I'd guess the lookouts that missed me were in trouble.

I hear crows around here, but none right here. They know 3 cats live here and a human. All of them subjects for a crow to avoid. This is the time of year they have tribal meetings. Very social birds. They live in family groups, the extended family possibly a tribe, so the crows you see in a group of crows are closely related. They're considerate and sometimes generous with each other. And they have hierarchies. The crows at Jr's know me. When I sat on the porch, often there was one or more crow in a tree in the near distance watching. They knew me as the human that threw apple to them. Down at the shop, Ross put bread out for them. Ross says they're so funny to look at, he'd rather watch em than kill em. Black chickens.

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