Nothing Like the Sun

Kathie GibboneyBy Kathie Gibboney      April 16, 2021

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Nothing Like the Sun
RETRIEVED FROM: BIRDEDEN.COM The differences between a crow and a raven.
It has come to my mind to converse with a crow. Suddenly I am desirous of some interspecies communication. Yes, to some, crows and their corvus cousin, the raven, have a dark and sinister reputation portending doom but I take a more romantic view, as did the Native Americans who revered them. Crows live right here in Topanga and mate for life. I see them flying over our trees, gliding on the wind, showing off, landing on branches and power lines, announcing their own mythic power with loud, hoarse, unmistakable squawks. They are deemed highly intelligent and of mystic repute, and although my own intelligence might, at times be questioned, I am certainly sympatico to the species in the magical, mystical realms. I’m forever looking for the fairies, checking astrological forecasts, casting the odd spell, occasionally consulting the tarot, watching the skies, and holding an unyielding belief in the Easter Bunny, whom I have actually seen. Twice. So, I reach out through the ethers to psychically call in a crow just for a respectful, open-minded linking up to see if Crow has some message to reveal to me or I to her or him. The Crow is considered a messenger of change or transformation often of a spiritual or emotional nature. Certainly, I could use some transformation, (the closet?), so whenever I see the black and beautiful bird flying high overhead, drifting with aplomb in the air currents, I silently chant, “Crow bird, Crow bird, wild and free, Crow bird Crow bird, come to me.” It does not. In fact, Crow seems to gain speed and fly off in the opposite direction as if having pressing business elsewhere. So much for my future career as a crow whisperer, although I have recently found large, unsightly, avian droppings splattered on my car windshield. Not quite sure I welcome that message. Giving up on telepathic transmission, I decide on a different tactic. The vocalization of the crow is frequently a call-and-response, a series of two to five caws over a distance that may be greetings or a warning. Now I can do a pretty good duck call so why not try Crowspeak? I listen carefully to their calls and pitch my tone as close as I can come. There are great acoustics here on our little Old Canyon hill, if from surrounding mountains or the effects of the garage door across the street, echoing the sound I am not sure, but it makes for a natural amphitheater. I am often tempted to treat or torture the neighbors by standing in our yard reciting Shakespeare. I could be Fairy Queen Titania or Juliet advising Romeo: “Do not swear at all; or if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self, which is the God of my idolatry, and I’ll believe thee.” Ah, I digress…so instead of the bright, burning, young girl, in love, I’m out here imitating a cawing crow, loudly, like a crazy lady, but at least I’ve not yet taken to donning a black cape in order to appear like a large corvus, flapping my arms up and down as if they were wings. My pleading aria goes unanswered. Maybe I should try the Shakespeare, I just bet the crows would appreciate some Lady Macbeth. Crows have been observed to be attracted to shiny objects which they collect and hide. This sounds promising as I, too, am attracted to all things that glitter. I place some small pieces of tinfoil here and there around our patio, hang some leftover Christmas tinsel, scatter gold plastic pirate coins, sea glass, Mardi Gras beads, a sparkling cat toy and, from my heart, one small silver heart pendant. Unfortunately, my dazzling offerings have not yet attracted even one crow to swoop down for a closer look. I turn to the obvious lure. The quickest way to attract crows is by feeding them. I had hesitated to resort to using food as an attraction. One is really not supposed to feed wild animals, but people often have bird feeders and my plan is only to give them a little bit, just a taste of food when I see they are in the neighborhood. I research their diet and choose to offer them one of their preferred menu items, peanuts. Nuts are native to California, so it is not really as unnatural or processed as another dish reputed to be a crow’s crowd-pleasing favorite: cat or dog food. We have a sloping garage roof on an even level with our patio, onto which I’ve already set the shiny gold coin, that lay untouched by pirate or bird for well over a week now. In the late afternoon, after seeing some crows in the distance I toss a few nuts on the roof. Then I watch, not knowing who might show up, rat, skunk, wayward clown, or passing baseball fan? I get ground squirrel, one thing our yard has enough of. Nevertheless, I persevere, tossing out only a cautious amount of feed and, sure enough, one crow comes to land on a nearby telephone pole and watches for a bit before taking off. On the third day my husband alerts me from the other room, announcing, “Crow on the roof! Crow!” From a window I see Crow outside. I run to the door and try to walk slowly, as I step outside. And there she is, the biggest crow imaginable, larger than our cat. The very Queen of Crows, just a few feet away, like something out of a fairy tale, and I could almost see her crown. She hops about, casually eating nuts, feathers black and gleaming with the perfect balance of dignity and humor. She keeps her sharp, all-knowing eye on me as I smile in admiration. Then lifts her wings and alights into the fading light of an early April Topanga sky. It is enough, I am honored. The next morning, I awake to two smaller crows perched on a power line directly above our yard. I bring out my Shakespeare and will keep it at the ready. Maybe a sonnet. “My Mistress is nothing like the sun…”
Kathie Gibboney

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