Saturday, August 14, 2004


Was awakened at dawn this morning by the teenage crow who wants to be a frog. He was practicing up in the cherry tree. He's only a year or so old, judging by his size, but he does a damn good imitation of a very large frog if you ask me, though I must admit that crow-as-frog criteria are practically nonexistent.

I first heard him trying to be a frog one morning when I was out early working in the garden and heard a very bass-voiced frog rapping an odd beat way up in a cedar tree, and I thought boy that frog is high up, that's unusual for what is clearly a major frog, which, now that I think of it, couldn't be a frog, it would have to weigh at least fifty pounds to get a bass that deep. What could be doing that? And crow didn't move or fly off at the time, which would have given the game away; he was just watching to see if his imitation was working. This was all later deduction on my part of course, when I came to know the guy so well.

Not long after that, one morning I heard then saw him way up there in a tall cypress, confidently pretending to be the same 50-pound frog, so I knew who it was. The why of it all I have no idea, how can a crow want to be something other than a crow? That's a matter for the avian shrinks. There are few human references on such aspects of corvine psychology. Teenage human ambitions in these regards are a matter of record.

This morning though, it all took a new turn. Apparently the crow is beginning to lose faith in his quest for froghood; now he wants to be a warbler. At dawn he was sitting low in the cherry tree, starting out as the frog, when as if in despair at ever realizing frogginess (much as I gave up on my rockstar ambitions), he suddenly lapsed into a deep and raw-croaking lilt, as of a laryngitic warbler the size of a hog filled with despair.

I gotta give him that, he really tried. And he was good, as far as he could take it. He went for the rhythm and the pacing, the tonal variation and the lyric fluidity, the optimism and swelling hope of dawn, he'd clearly heard it all before and been enthralled to the point of really wanting to be a warbler, which might be a lot better than being a frog, since a warbler is another bird after all, but let's face it, optimism is not a big part of the crow character, which tends heavily toward the dark side.

So when I looked out the window and saw the big black lunk hunkered on the cherry branch, awk-squawking for all the tiny delicate warbler finesse and swelling hope that were nowhere to be found in either voice or body, I could only wish that sooner or later he'd grow up and try to be a crow, he'll be damned good at it and find a fulfilling career in the field, though I'll definitely miss the only 50-pound frog and hog-sized warbler I've ever heard.


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