Sunday, November 29, 2009


Late last Wednesday afternoon, as the slant of sundown turned the brown stubble of the rice paddy terraces into spikes of gold, it was time for the spontaneous annual family reunion of all the local crows, and it is a big family.

Usually flying solo or in twos or maybe distantly arranged threes, on this occasion there were hundreds of crows gathered together on the ground, walking here and there like at a human reunion picnic, flying in brief bursts of excitement only at the uplifting experience of meeting old friends, and if they could have brought such potluck items as hot dogs, hamburgers, lemonade, beer, potato salad and deviled eggs, I bet they would have enjoyed those too.

For some reason, from among a whole mountainside of stepped paddies, as venue for the big event they chose only two paddies just across the road from our house (we couldn't help but notice), and until some time after sundown the place was filled with yawps of excitement, the young birds swaggering and chasing each other, the elders just hunkering on the edges of the paddies and gazing out into the air over the lake, much like at my own childhood family reunions long ago, when we kids would raise hell while the parents chatted and the old men sat and puffed their cigars, staring into the air at the memories there...

I couldn't help reading those things into the crows' actions, but they reminded me of my own memories... Maybe the big picture isn't all that different for crows, who seemed, at least on Wednesday, to have a sense of the past, a sentiment of destiny...

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