Monday, January 12, 2009

Something Shiny

Years ago, my neighborhood was carved out of a forest. Nowadays its ancient oaks and leafy poplars provide a canopy over land that is paradise for wildlife of all sorts, and that includes the Crows. An almost sinister looking bird, the Crow is rarely spotted on his own, but usually descends upon the garden as a member of a loud and discordant flock. A rather gloomy congregation, they swoop and assemble in a winter-bare oak, filling the naked limbs like scores of blue black leaves, creating a haunted tree worthy of an Edward Gorey painting. Make a sudden movement at the window, and whoosh, these changeling leaves are blown upward, enmasse, into the blue sky like an angry storm cloud on its way to rain down on another garden a couple of streets away, leaving their momentary roost January bare once more.

Not long ago, I discovered that the Crows have more than a passing interest in my very own front garden. For down near the edge of the drive, there is a bed of green clover in which I keep a modest collection of glass blue stones. Like a tiny sea lapping the shores of Lilliput, this circle of glimmering blue glass is a delight to my eye each time I see it. And, apparently, the Crows share in that delight. You see, the Crow cannot spot anything shiny without wanting to possess it. He is, quite simply, the shopaholic of the avian world and my little glass ocean is completely irresistible to his sharply acquisitive eye. The daily walkers who stroll by my garden, those who no doubt once viewed my collection of blue with bemused curiosity, now find themselves participants in its care and maintenance. For the Crows steal the stones, and the walkers bring them back. I have been told that they are found all over the neighborhood, and the walkers seem to take a certain pleasure in finding one, pocketing it and returning it to its rightful place by the clover shoreline at the edge of my garden. I find this such a charming game played between bird and man. Both of them out in the fresh clean winter air, looking for something shiny.

Painting above by Arthur Rackham