The Way of the Crow



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One early spring morning in late April, 1994, I was awakened by loud cawing from Spirit who was having a great time greeting the birth of a new day. There had been a heavy water frost and this may have affected his mood. I lay in bed listening to his loud singing, while slowly drifting off into that magic state between sleep and wakefulness. I found myself imagining that crows everywhere were cawing in unison. I closed my eyes, and I could see thousands of crows flying about in one grand harmonious pattern. Startled by the vivid scene, I sat up in bed wondering if there is an internal or instinctive sense, psychically connecting the members of a particular species? Do crows share a certain internal harmony that can synchronise their actions? I understood that each crow in that dream sky, knew what the others were doing, and were instantly aware of changes in movement and flight pattern. Of course, this was a dream, and I have no proof of such profound synchronicity. However, I have observed how well a flock of crows are able to synchronize their movements. When a lead crows change direction, the others quickly follow their example.

Later that day, I took a walk along the eastern shore of Minamkeak Lake. At one point on this shore, there is an old, partly dead hemlock, its limbs extending antler-like over the water. As I stood by the hemlock, I remembered that I had once noticed several crows perched on its limbs. This reminded me of the life Spirit might have had, and of the accident that tragically altered his destiny.

I recalled how my foot slipped while watching the crows, and how this caused clapping sounds as loose rock came together. The crows cawed loudly as they flew away to the southwest. I was able to watch them dive and sweep towards a grove of pine trees on the distant horizon. I thought about Spirit, again, and smiled as I recalled some of the experiences we shared together.

Upon returning from my walk at Minamkeak, I decided to take a late breakfast at the Blarney Stone restaurant in Hebbs Cross. As I sat by a window eating my toast, and enjoying the late morning sun, I saw three crows flying in the direction of Fancy Lake. They were making playful movements in the sky, circling, diving, and behaving in a manner common to crows in the spring of the year. I watched those crows, oblivious to my breakfast or the other customers in the restaurant. I wondered whether such experiences as this inspired people like Francis Allen and Millicent Flicken to write about the playful, aesthetic nature of crows and other corvids.

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