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Clever Enough to Be Crows

“If men had wings and bore black feathers, Few of them would be clever enough to be crows.”
– Henry Ward Beecher

I stood at the window and watched three crows walk across the lawn, pausing now and then to pluck some edible creature out of the grass. Each walked with intent, and the three of them orchestrated a reconnaissance mission of the terrain, assessing every morsel and every threat together. The shiny black feathers were striking against the muted green lawn and the relentless fog enveloping everything.

Crows communicate like no other birds, with a rich and diverse language of their own, and a particular nuance in how they move and gesture to each other that is beyond the understanding of this simple human on the other side of the glass. I had no doubt they were aware of me, and no doubt they recognized the glass for the barrier it was. I thought I was observing them, but you forget in that moment that you too are being observed.

Standing there, just beyond my gaze, on the far side of the lawn near the relative safety of junipers, was a wild rabbit, young and cautious, also making breakfast at the lawn buffet. The crows and the rabbit were indifferent to each other, aware but knowing the threat level each posed to the other. Each looking outward for the first sign of a fox or coyote or maybe an overzealous neighborhood dog, and with a common purpose, they became allies of the moment. I was the odd one of the bunch, at once a part, and apart, from the action.

I suppose there’s nothing of travel and philosophy or fitness in this post; no mountains summitted, no waterfalls gazed upon, no international borders crossed, no personal milestones broken. Void of such action, you might think it a frivolous cluster of words. I’ll concede there’s little to glean from these words on travel and fitness, but you might just find a bit of philosophy in the four creatures working the foggy lawn, or the one observer seeking to understand the foggy world on the other side of the glass.

The crows stayed with me long after they’d taken flight, leaving me with the fog and empty lawn. I’d like to think this observer lingered in their mind well past our moment together. But that would be folly. Crows have better things to ponder than the frivolous life of humans.

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