Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Message of the Crow

A common question people ask me is, “Why are you so interested in crows?” Sometimes they’ll follow up the question with a story about a personal encounter with crows.

“I hate crows. They kill the little animals in my garden,” says one woman. Another says, “I had an invasion of magpies (relatives of crows) in my backyard. They woke me up early every morning with their racket.” “Oh, crows!” says a saleslady at a fabric shop when I tell her that I’m looking for crow fabric. “They are too smart and scary. We wanted to tear down an old shed in our backyard, but they wouldn’t let us. They kept divebombing us.” The stories are interesting, often not complimentary, and yet most folks seem to have a reluctant admiration for these enduring birds. They are bossy, smart, sassy, and just plain fascinating.

The crow and I started our relationship earlier this year, when I was working on my Winter Tree quilt (see my post of July 7 on this blog).The addition of the crow to the top of the tree was almost accidental, and I added some beads streaming from the crow’s bill on a whim. But that’s what I love about creative work: often there are underlying messages in the end product, messages that come out of our deep subconscious. If we pay attention, we will learn something about ourselves we did not know before. The great Creator’s spirit within us knows and speaks.

I began reading everything I could find on crows. The more I researched, the more I became intrigued. I learned that crows live in family groupings, and mate for life. They are the smartest of the birds, the avian equivalent of chimps. Aesop told a fable about crows: a thirsty crow saw a pitcher of water, but the water was too low in the pitcher for the crow to get at it. So it found a pile of pebbles and dropped them into the pitcher to raise the water level until it could quench its thirst. The moral of the story: Necessity is the mother of invention. This is a great story, but it also happens to be based on reality. You can read about and see it for yourself by doing a google search on “crow drops pebbles into water.”

This is my version of Aesop's fable. The fable is written out across the bottom.

I learned that crows mourn their dead. They communicate, and somehow pass on life lessons to their children and grandchildren. They like to play, hanging upside down from branches in the breeze to swing back and forth. Yearling girl crows often stay home an extra year to help their parents care for the next year’s brood. They are, in a word, quite amazing.

I passed on what I’d learned about crows to folks who would ask, but one questioner was not satisfied. “I think they’re nasty. They tear apart our yard, they move in and take over whatever appeals to them, they’re noisy and bossy, and they’re everywhere.” That’s when the penny dropped, and the meter began ticking. Yes, crows are everywhere, and sometimes we think they’ve taken over the world. But if we gave Mother Nature a chance to voice her opinion about us, wouldn’t she say the same thing? We human beings have appropriated the earth and act as though it’s ours to do with what we like. We’re noisy, we’re bossy, we’re persistent, and we’re not about to go away anytime soon.

Crows are plentiful in our urban environment because they have learned to adapt. So have we. They moved from rural to urban environments when we did. They have pushed other wildlife to the side in their search for room. So have we. They are not good, they are not bad, they just are. They are so much like us, it’s scary.

Now, when I see a crow, I am reminded of ... me. The crows send me a message of huge importance. We are not alone on this beautiful planet  We are connected in ways too numerous to count – we breathe the same air, drink the same water, and depend on each other as we dance this delicate dance of life. What are we doing to make room for all God’s creatures?

The crow and I have started a journey in this special year, one that I suspect will lead me into new territory. Thanks for allowing me to share that journey with you.

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