The Way of the Crow



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Of course, interacting with the natural environment is beneficial and therapeutic on numerous levels. There is a wonderful release from stress, and a feeling of relaxation to be gained from nature -- from casually exploring lakes and bogs, to feeling the moss under your feet as you walk a shaded conifer forest, or to hearing the rustling of leaves underfoot while walking a hardwood stand in autumn.

More recently I find that, as I explore the natural environment, I rely on my intuition to guide me to interesting experiences. If I get a particular urge or feeling to go to a certain location, I go without hesitation, knowing that there might be something of interest there, perhaps an interesting crow sighting. Sometimes there is disappointment with this approach, although more frequently my hunches result in worthwhile experiences.

One afternoon in July, 1992, I suddenly felt a strong urge to take my binoculars and visit Minamkeak Lake. Walking directly there, I was casually strolling over rocks, when I heard crows cawing behind me. Turning sharply, I saw four crows flying in a northeasterly direction to settle on pine trees in the distance. Focusing the binoculars, I was delighted to see two crows fly from the pine trees, and land on rocks near the water.

I was hoping to observe crows splashing and bathing their feathers. However, I wasn't so fortunate that day, although I did observe how they move about on rocks, heads bobbing, looking from side to side, and how they walk, slowly, then hop onto another rock. I watched one of the crows briefly put its head in the water. Unfortunately, they were partially hidden by a large boulder, making it difficult to clearly observe them. Nevertheless, I was happy to have followed my hunch to visit Minamkeak that summer afternoon.

On another occasion, I visited the "barrens" near Leipsigaek Lake. The area is relatively flat in most places, with rocks and large boulders scattered throughout. It was mined for gold from about 1890 to 1950. I went there on a hunch I had earlier that morning. The sky was partly overcast with a strong wind from the northwest. I drove my car over the old mining road that winds through the barrens, parking it near a bridge over still water, before proceeding on foot to a large rock outcropping nearby. As I made my way to the formation I was struck by the variety of plant life present. Wild pear bushes, blueberry, huckleberry, and bunchberry plants grow in abundance there. I noted numerous clumps of sweet gale, smelling as delightful as the bayberry, and large clusters of lambkill, along with scattered samples of leather leaf, ground juniper, and wild sarsaparilla. 

There were patches of crowberry covering the approach to the rock outcropping, and over the formation itself. From its summit I could see over the barrens a considerable distance. With my binoculars, I located the stillwater brook at two hundred yards distance, as it meandered its way through the barrens.

When I looked to the northeast, my view was largely the tops of young birch and poplar trees, their branches swaying, and their leaves shimmering in the soft evening breeze, creating an interesting wave-like effect which continued to the horizon. For several moments I watched as a crow flew near the tops of the young poplar trees, disappearing in the heavy growth of leaves and branches. Later it reappeared, but only for an instant, before vanishing in the cool shade of the foliage.

As I returned home that evening, I saw a crow flying south, its wing movements steady and untiring as it made its way over a long cove. I was reminded of the determination of the crow, a quality so exemplified by Spirit. This determination could be observed in his propensity for overcoming the handicaps in his life. I observed it in his pecking behaviour -- he would not be deterred until he had accomplished whatever he was doing with his beak. It was equally difficult to dissuade him from taking a thorough bath. Spirit was adamant about keeping his living space clean of feathers, and he did so, no matter how often I replaced them. This kind of determination is indicative of the crow. It does not compromise it natural talents, but uses them to the limit in its daily life. If we humans would follow our path in life with the same determination, we would surely succeed in reaching our goals. We would have learned well from the two-winged ones.

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