Friday, July 25, 2014


Anybody who still believes that crows don’t swear was definitely not in bed with me this morning. I was there, though, savoring the peaceful ambiance of a morning dream until it was shattered by a long, loud repetition of America’s most popular curse word, coming from a high branch of the chestnut tree. It's a term not much used out here in the Japanese countryside; it's mostly used in the big cities, where it has far more utility. I recognized the word at once, even though it was in Crow.

It had to be Young Crow. He probably picked the word up while strutting in the chestnut tree waiting for his mother to feed him, while I was down below, splitting knotty oak. (It has to be knotty to get a good swearstream going.) Crows are excellent mimics; they also use tools, and words are tools, so need I say more. Come to think of it, Young Crow must be the only crow in Japan that really nails the rhythmic and tonal niceties of the term. Lacking lips, he can’t quite get the F, but the enunciation is close enough to be effective, especially at that volume.

And in a bird so young! Until recently he'd been a big mama’s boy, strutting local summits like the chestnut tree, complaining about his hunger and lengthy solitude, calling over and over to his mama for more more more food, which she fetched to him as quickly as she could, back and forth from the vast larder that is my garden and its neighborhood, while she - much smaller than chubbyboy - got thinner and thinner as her tubby darling scarfed the general vicinity. Now he was grown enough to finally be on his own, and he was not pleased with the new arrangement.

On and on and on he went, cursing at all the ground around, much as my boss and later my drill sergeant used to do, and with nearly the same sharp and steady rhythm. I’d never heard any crow do this before, no matter what age or mood. It was damn impressive, I must say. And in a bird so young!  Just confirms my long-held belief that cursing is an elemental drive.

Young crow has got his own life to live now, in any case, and should be given the chance to tarnish it a bit, just as we humans do, take some of the glare off. As the more experienced party, though, I'd advise the lad to spend more time on his delivery and, over the years, be sure add a bit more salt.

Life does have its needs.


June Calender said...

Great post. I'm not surprised the crow picked up your cursing. We'll never know how far afield our influence on the world goes.

Robert Brady said...

Indeed, June. Seems there must be some evolutionary value to it; today's vulgarity may be tomorrow's eloquence...