Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Crow flow

Yesterday was a beautiful day here, so we went to the park. Astonishingly, given the sunshine, we had the whole creek-side to ourselves. We marvelled at the vine maple: leaves already unfurling--in the first week of February. We shook our heads at the dimness of robins; American robins really are the most stupid birds I've had the misfortune to encounter. (Oh, okay: I shook my head; Kelley laughed at me shaking my head. We both know that I despise American robins because they're not really robins. They're miserable jumped-up thrushes. They wake me up in the morning. Their 'song' is monotonous and metallic and sets my teeth on edge. But essentially their problem, my problem, is that they're not British. So there you go.)

Then the crows arrived.

Have you ever been in an English town centre when the football trains arrive? One minute everyone is going about their business, the next, a wave of sounds pours between and over the buildings, like a tsunami, like a storm, growing, growing, and then the police appear like harbingers on their horses, everyday citizens vanish, and then the football crowd boils through the streets. The noise is astonishing. They shout, they hurl abuse and vomit, they jeer and catcall...and then they're gone. Citizens reappear, the day continues as normal, but every now again people blink nervously and pause, waiting for everything to change again.

We were watching the water, the sky was blue, the robins were running about mindlessly in the bankside undergrowth. Then the robins vanished. We heard a faint hissing, a stirring of air, and crows streamed across the sky from the south. Then the east. Then the southwest. Like locusts or ants: a flow of black-winged noise, meeting right over the creek valley, turning and jeering and calling and cawing, dropping and flipping and swooping and swirling. Hundreds of them, perhaps even thousands, pouring from all points of the compass except north. Then they began to wheel. Round and round, a huge maelstrom of black feathers, sound fading and growing, fading and growing, then they rushed away north and the sky was blue again.

Kelley looked at me, said, "That was something," and we blinked and the world went on again. The stream burbled. The robins scratted about. The vine maple unfurled a little more. But my mind still itches with the remembered sound.

ETA: Yep, I've talked about crows before. A lot.

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