Here it is, almost Halloween – one of the best nights of the year for storytelling and yarns. Usually, I have more Halloween content on my blog Saturdays, but this year, Halloween kind of snuck up on me.
The weather has been unseasonably warm, and we’ve gotten a lot of rain. We did get a frost, and the leaves have turned those gorgeous reds and yellows that signal the end of a season of productivity, so I can’t say I didn’t have any warning. But here we are, five days from Halloween, and you haven’t heard boo from me about it.
So, here’s a short meditation on crows. Maybe crows do it all year around, but I notice it more in October: they gather at dusk on power lines (sometimes hundreds of them), and then all of a sudden whirl off through the sky on whatever errand crows have on a Friday evening. What are they doing?
I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic The Birds many years ago, and it instilled a certain wariness – a frustrating suspicion that the birds were out to get me. It doesn’t help that crows are territorial. They have good memories (especially for such small brains) and they remember people who have been unkind to them, or so I’m told. The crows around City Hall this year started swooping down on people heading into the government building. I was lucky and was never attacked (although a few crows were definitely giving me the side eye – to be fair, they can ONLY give the side eye), but signs were up.
They are protecting their children, I guess. That makes sense. It doesn’t make sense to build a nest next to City Hall, though. I suppose they thought the big pine trees looked just right for a home, but then the kids came along, and they started getting edgy.
Crows are smart. It’s easy to ascribe reasoning to them. They’ll drop walnuts in front of cars to get the tires to do the crushing . . . that’s some pretty sophisticated tool use, if you ask me. They defend their territory. They talk . . . oh, how they caw and crackle!
We can understand how ancients associated their cousins, the ravens, with Odin, the chief god of Norse mythology. The birds would fly out each day, gather information, then tell Odin. Odin seemed very fond of his birds, and worried they wouldn’t come back. It was a mutual relationship, and they were fantastic helpers.
Ravens and crows are naturals for the Halloween season, and I think I hear a story idea on the roof, scritching with its sharp talons . . . . .