Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I was out on the sunny deck this morning drilling and inoculating the first of this year's new shiitake logs, and when I'd finished and was carrying the heavy logs two by two out back to lean against the stone wall where it's dimmer and damper than elsewhere, as I went about my work lugging and standing the logs where they'd stay for a couple of years or so till they began to fruit, an impressive committee of crows followed me back and forth, curious about my actions, cawcusing loudly overhead, observing and commenting the while on my behavior (crows are as judgmental as they are nosey).

Admittedly, my Crow is poor; I get to hear a lot of it up here where the native speakers hang out, and I've picked up a little over the years sort of by osmosis, so from all the ruckus I could piece together a few fragments, like “Look, the [featherless] creature has pieces of trees… it's moving [them] from one place to another place, why would it do that, when it could just leave the trees where they were? Besides, it just threw away some tasty [garbage]! Incomprehensible!”

Beneath the canopy of trees still bearing their leaves, the ruckus was aggressively loud, so I responded just as loudly (my spoken Crow is even poorer than my heard Crow, though, since I rarely get a chance to speak it in daily life; plus, I grew up hearing American Crow, which is pretty different, but I try. It is not commonly known that Japanese crow is one of the most difficult languages in the world): “And what the hell are you guys doing here, making so much noise, don't you have anything better to do? Besides, you hate mushrooms!”

The responses came racketing down: “What is it doing with pieces of trees? It must have to [work] like that for a [living]! Haw! Haw! Our [friends] tell us that it also goes off into the gray (philosophically, crows see everything in shades of black) city and works in [skyless] boxes up in the air, how does it stand that? What is a [salary]?” and so forth, all in the extremely limited Crow vocabulary-- basically one phonetic syllable with countless minute variations.

I asked why they didn't try to acquire an actual language like we humans have; they responded “Where did that get [your species]? Look at you, crawling around down there, never even come up here, working your life away for food when food is lying around [rotting] everywhere, and [for free]! Haw! Haw! You need a [house,] too! Our [house] is everything we see! You need a [wheeled vehicle] to go far! And you think we should change? You must be as crazy as you act!

I was way outnumbered, and this was going to be pretty much one-sided (crows never listen anyway), so when I finished up I went inside for lunch; the committee is still up there hanging around the house, laughing.

Bet they can’t blog, though.

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