70-73 On Crows

A crow stood near the top of a 50 foot evergreen. He did crow things. Then suddenly, like a child on a monkey bar, he flipped. He hung suspended upside down. There was a pause.

70. Crow Energy

Nothing bodes spiritual immersion like the Quilleute Oceanside Resort on the coast near Forks.  But kiddies, it ain’t for the faint of heart.  Travelers must leave the cell phone, television, and internet in the rearview mirror.

And you all know that I thrill in that.

Last April, Kwami took the challenge.  Prior to my women’s retreat, we stayed in a luxury cabin for the time that overlapped my birthday.

The cabin boasts a full frontal wall of window glass that faces the ocean waves.  I pondered there on the couch, staring west.  

We create a Medicine Shield while on retreat, and I planned to use the footprints of my spirit animals in the design.  

My thoughts journeyed to Raven.  Far back in Girl Scout camp stories, a year of naming “stuck”.  Our day camp always allowed the leader names to shift, and year to year, we chose new names, names on the theme.  One year, Carolyn chose Owl, and I, Raven.  What was the theme?  No memory.  It wasn’t birds.

Far back in Girl Scout camp stories, a year of naming “stuck”. 

When we returned to camp planning the following year, we were told that all leaders would keep the name of the past year.  So Raven it was. Forever.

When Mom lived the world of all great camp counselors, her name was Chickadee.  She was given that name.  Small but loud.  It is the reason for Nyasha’s tatoo.  It is the reason that Chickadee appearances mean so much.  On that February afternoon, when we walked away from her Hospice room, two unseasonal Chickadees flew into the tree in front of me.  Mom and Grandma.  My first thought.

And in life, Mom was very connected to my Raven identity.  I still have potholders, canvas bags, and other raven themed “junk” that she collected for me in her travels.

As I sat on that couch, focused on the waves,

I pondered a disconnect.  Was Raven actually one of my spirit animals?  Like really?

My thoughts drifted to the black birds.  There were two crows playing on the dune. I did not feel connected to Raven.  I honor Raven’s story. I know it is a part of me.  But a spirit animal has work to do.  Raven does not “do work” for me; it is me.

Could it be that Crow has that role, my ever present watcher, helpmate?  At that momentary thought, one of the pair on the dune, rose into the air and flew directly toward me.  No, no, no, no, no.  Do NOT hit the window!  This is NOT the day to die!  The crow swooped at the last possible second.

He landed quickly and gracefully on the gutter, twisted his head around and down, and stared me in the eye.  

“Like finally.  Finally you get it.”  And I had to laugh at such obvious crow energy.

71. It Was Murder, It Was Not Murder

The Tetra lemma.  It was murder.  It was not murder.  It was both murder and not murder…

Eric and I lived in Lake City, the Sand Point Way area, while I was student teaching.  One day, there was incredible chaos in the front yard.

A murder of crows (that’s what a flock of crows is called, a murder) spread throughout the trees and over the power lines.  They were crying out with wild abandon.  Nothing is quite as loud as one crow.  Multiply by one hundred.

I stepped out.  One crow lay dead in the grass.  Apparently, it had connected to both power line and pole, resulting in instant death.  Murder?  Suicide?  Random accident?  There was no autopsy.

The crows cried and danced and cried.  I went back inside, leaving them to mourn.

About an hour later, the party continued, and it was both ear splitting and so soulful that I was compelled to reduce the grief.

Newspaper in hand, I went to the lifeless carcass, unsure if the flock would allow me to move it.  I wrapped the body, and carried it sacredly into the house.  

Human trickery.  I wrapped the dead body more completely, more thoroughly… and placed it in the least sacred of burial clothes, a plastic grocery bag.  I waited.  The yard was quiet. 

Exiting through the back door, I put the body in the trash.  The feathered, black soul was watching.  It was the best that I could do.  

72. Popcorn Party

Back in the day, classic to every PTA on the planet, we sold popcorn.  Once a week, the machine came out, and we popped and dispersed the corn to happy elementary kids.  And crows.

They knew the day.  They flew in from a ten mile radius.  And as much as the kids enjoyed their Friday popcorn experience, the crows loved it more.

Sometimes there were holidays.  I would drive in to the Red Apple Market.  And the crows were there.  Confused.  Disappointed.  No popcorn today?

73. Flip It, Flip It Good

In that same parking lot, although years enough later that the grocery store had shifted to being an IGA rather than a Red Apple, I sat in my car.  

The phone conversation was serious.  And long.  I dared not drive, because I would lose service.  And there was no hands free option in that era anyway.

I listened, and I watched.  I listened as the tale unfolded, and the emotional nature spilled out, and the drama carried passion and weight and zeal.

A crow stood near the top of a 50 foot evergreen. He did crow things.  Then suddenly, like a child on a monkey bar, he flipped.  He hung suspended upside down.  There was a pause.  

Mysterious crow

My heart leapt.  Was he okay?

Flip.  Back to upright.  Pause.  Flip.  Upside down, holding the position.  Then upright again.

We are that.  Upside down, the drama, the serious nature. Then flip, it is all upright again.

Author: Michele Plumb Stowell

Michele Stowell was a teacher, a hand holder, and encouraging voice. Born an early Gen Xer, she has lived in Western Washington for the duration. Her children, two spectacular genetic daughters and an uncountable number of marvelous scout and school sons and daughters, shine as her biggest impact and her greatest blessing. Just before her 54th birthday, Michele was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Her writing and art work are expressions of the drama and the joy of living earth bound. On October 24, 2021, Michele was released from her physical body, transported to continue her work on other realms.

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