Dec 5, 2006

Black is Beautiful

At dusk the crows came, just as they do almost every autumn evening, flying low over my land in massive numbers. They'd stay only briefly and then fly off to their nightly roost, wherever that might have been. I said I wished that just once they'd stay here for the night and not move on. And that night, they did just that. They must have heard me. Or perhaps the very loud train whistle up the road startled them from their original aerie near the tracks and brought them here to stay for the night, darkness being too close for them to keep moving.

I stood in the rain and watched hundreds of crows settle onto the tips of the tall trees around my property. As darkness descended, still more crows arrived to join the first group. Birds alighted on branches, remaining so very still it was hard to see them against the dark gray sky. But then their bedtime dance began. Birds flitted from branch to branch, restlessly searching for the best spot. More birds arrived, hovering, wings beating, looking for open space. Some birds moved within the same tree, many birds moved from one tree to another.

Gradually, the cacophony of caws died down to just a few random calls. And eventually, the new arrivals dwindled and became more sporadic as well. Soon it grew too dark to clearly make out the countless little dark bodies up in the trees. When they became mere silent silhouettes in the night sky, I went inside. Periodically throughout the early night, I checked on the crows and thanked them for staying just a bit longer than usual.

At 6:30 the next morning, with the sun just peeking out from its night cover, I woke up with a bad cough. It is then that I heard them: hundreds upon hundreds of crows waking and moving on to start their busy day in an ocean of noise. Quickly, I rose and went downstairs. As I let out the dog, I stood in the backyard and watched them leave my trees. Small groups left in staggered departures, flying off in all directions. The birds that were still in the trees called to the neighborhood to wake up and greet the day. I was pleased to have seen them leave for the day. It felt complete after having watched them arrive. That night they would return once more to roost in my trees for a second night.

They have not done it since in the two years since they so beautifully and noisily graced my land. Once again I must be content to watch them fly over hurried and low every night as evening settles, calling to the dark night that beats at their backs.

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