There is a crow outside my window now on a branch just yards from me. He is making quite a racket, an amazing racket. So much more than the caw, caw, caw people know and expect. This crow is clucking, purring, and even seems to sing. Just a moment ago I heard a grinding giggling sound followed by a clicking sound then his full-throated caw, caw caw. Some of the caws sound nasally, but how could a crow have a nasally call?
Whatever this crow is doing, it is working if he’s trying to attract attention. I hear other crows now making grinding barking cawing sounds. Still others in the distance, maybe circling above. I like crows. I especially like crows in the fall of the year when they alone seem alive on a dead grey afternoon. It is very reassuring to have them around screaming the way they do.
I remember one of my first experiences of crows. I was very young at my grandparents’ house on a late autumn day. Parents let children play outdoors alone back then, even very young boys like me, and my grandmother wrapped me up extra tight against the cold and advised me that I might find other children down the block and out I went.
But I didn’t find any other children; I just walked down the street. It was cold, a dry crisp cold. I can’t say for certain what it was, but I remember a scent in the air that was bitter and sharp. Perhaps an old coal furnace still burned down by the river and the scent of it lingered up into our neighborhood.
What really stands out in this memory, though, are the crows. They circled above the church at the end of the block and littered a large bare tree that stood frozen and still on the boulevard there. Against the flat grey sky the crows looked like drops of ink spattered here and there. Their absolutely distinct silhouettes fascinated me. The crows were sharp and alive, but had absolutely no depth or detail. I must have stood on the sidewalk looking at those crows for nearly all of the time I was out of the house. They were beautiful to look at and before I turned to go back to the house, I wondered where the crows would go that night.
The crows outside my window have left. Here and gone!