Thursday, January 29, 2004



As recorded severally elsewhere in these quotidian chronicles, a frequent bringer of singular annoyances is the Dark Marauder known as karasu-sensei, or Dr. Crow. One of his favorite habits around here, as around elsewhere, most notably large cities, is to hang out near trash gathering locales and when no one is watching, or in the City (where who cares?) even if they are watching, the Dark Doctor swoops down and rips open the most likely looking plastic trash bags and strews the most promising contents all over the human landscape (crows have no landscape to speak of, only crowscape, which is utterly gorgeous it goes without saying), looking for that bit of leftover bento or that slice of bread, some potato chips in the bottom of the bag, an aspect of hungry teenager in black feathers.

Although we don't produce much trash, we occasionally put out a bag for the trash truck that comes chugging up the mountain at somewhat unpredictable hours, necessitating that we leave the bag out exposed in all its tempting majesty to the crows and their poking nosy beaks for hours at a time. Thus the Dark Dilemma.

We didn't want to leave a trash can out there, or have to store it somewhere else in between uses; anyway, those cans and their tops blow far away from up here on the mountain when the wind wants to have some fun with these laughable mortals and their puny plans. Nor did we want to build any kind of permanent trash container out there next to the road, like some folks do, that we'd have to see every time we went out... so before putting out a bag of trash, we wound up looking around at all the landscape to see if the Stygian Nemesis was anywhere near (news travels fast by Crowphone), then after the bag was put out we'd have to look out the window every ten minutes or so to make sure it was still intact.

You do that for three hours and you begin to seek new solutions. Especially on a rainy day when you forget for 20 minutes and look out to see wet trash all over the roadway and crows bouncing around with their heads in bags. So we thought and we thought. We tried putting a kind of outdoor storage trunk out there that we could also use elsewhere in the garden, but someone thought we were throwing it away and took it. We thought of getting another one and chaining it to a tree or to a cement-locked stake in the ground, but then we realized we were getting a bit too much of an eerie glow in our eyes.

So we took the mechanical problem approach, and tried the simplest possibility first. Knowing something of the psychology of crows by now, how conservatively suspicious and edgy they are, despite their ostensibly bullying natures, I bought a couple of meters of bright blue .5 cm mesh garden netting, laid it on the ground, put the bag of trash on it, then folded it up and over the trash, still plainly visible through the netting, and held the net down by laying a chunk of wood on the edge.

Turns out the crows will not go near it. They either can't see it as trash (even though you can read the kanji right through the blue), or do not want to put their heads in any kind of net whatsoever; or maybe they simply cannot abide that atrocious shade of blue; who cares? We haven't had a crow-trash problem in nearly a year now. So simple! And cheap. And not patented. And due to inevitable circumstances (you know the way circumstances are), the netted trash has on occasion been left out overnight, and has not been bothered by any of the traditional garbage-bothering creatures of the night, though admittedly this is less of a test. Still, if you've got the Dingy Doctor diagnosing your trash, here's the prescription.


The Unpatented Crow No

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