Oil Slick Harbingers and Colorblind Crooner

Years ago, before my husband’s diagnosis of ALS, there were subtle signs; harbingers if you will, that times were going to be changing. We were at a grocery store. I live close to the eastern coastline and department store parking lots are often filled with seagulls that scavenge for french fries. They’re drawn in by the fast food restaurant smells and the wait for handouts. But the crows are getting wise to this. They’ve been hanging out alongside the gulls, hoping for some litter; perhaps a bag with a half eaten hamburger in it that got stuffed half-in the garbage pail and hangs halfway out. It seems every department store lot has a McDonalds in close proximity, at least where I live.

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Now crows just aren’t pretty even if they do glisten in rainbow colors like oil slicks but this one was almost graceful when it talked to me. They aren’t ‘pretty’ because they have an aura about them, a sly intelligence. That makes a person wary. 

As soon as I slammed the car door I looked skyward because the sound in the grocery store lot of someone, something rolling its ‘R’s loud up overhead was startling. I saw it lean  into the air as if it were a diver poised for the plunge or a jumper on a ledge. The crow was on top of the parking lot lamp with its beak wide open and that eerie sound krrrrrrolling out.

It fell forward into the air. It dipped a mere second then ascended.  After speaking to me it rose up and was gone.  I watched till it was a black speck in the grey sky.

The second time a crow talked to me I was at one of those parks with loopy streams and graffiti’ed  picnic tables, and hiking trails that wound through woods; complete with footbridges over trickles of water that intercepted the paths…I tied my jacket about my waist and paused to count crows lined up on power lines- when it happened  again!

I looked up. Right at it. A big inky thing was hooked onto the utility pole with thick legs shimmering all purple and green in its feathers purposeful; making eye contact with me. I saw it. Caught it in the act.  Moving its beak. Rolling its ‘R’s loud.

On garbage days, yes, I’d heard crows caw. Funny thing about them, is they have memory. They arrived in droves packed in trees in my dead-end burb before the first Hefty bag hit the pavement.  They knew when it was Thursday. But this! I’d never heard this before and now I was hearing it twice. First at the grocery store and now here at the entrance into the wooded foot trails. I watched its beak moving/ working to make that rolling/clucking that wasn’t a caw at all. It seemed a communication of sorts. A warning?

Then it was gone. It didn’t linger with its cronies in the grass tending to crows’ biz’. It didn’t fly off to another pole top. It just FELL into the air and then swooped up and away. I didn’t watch till it was a dot in the sky this time. I made for the woods in a brisk jog; never turning back to see it.

Is that what Poe’s raven did? Engaged in dialogue with him? A Krrrrrrrr is so different than a caw. And of course not long after the crows talked to me we found out.

Was it a harbinger of sorts?

It seemed that way to me. This bit about the crows is an excerpt from my memoir, Under The Banana Moon. It’s also one of those crystal clear memories that can’t be shaken. It happened before the rug was pulled out from under my life with three kids, two cats, a dog and a marriage.

I’ll end this with a favorite quote, song lyrics from Adam Duritz of the counting Crows:

I am covered in skin,
No one gets to come in,
Pull me out from inside,
I am folded,
And unfolded,
And unfolding,
I am, colorblind.

Coffee black and egg white,
Pull me out from inside,
I am ready,
I am ready,
I am ready,
I am fine,
I am fine,
I am fine.
{{Lyrics from COLORBLIND}}



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