At the end of June, a murder of crows takes up residence in the towering Doug Firs behind our house. Only, I find myself thinking That’s not a murder, that’s more like a triple homicide of crows because there has to be sixty, eighty, maybe one hundred crows in those trees and on the line near our house. And it feels like there’s an urgency to their convention – they caw and lift off, land again, cry out, lift off again to another branch. Now I wonder if it wasn’t a gathering to prepare for the scorching temperatures in our city that came a couple of days later. I imagine one crow put out the call to come together. Perhaps she said, “Hey everybody, there’s a woman who puts out a glass mixing bowl full of water on the fence below us. Maybe we should gather here for the 114 degree temperatures.” And maybe the cacophony of crow voices that followed shot down her idea. “Seriously?! We can’t all survive on a mixing bowl of water.” Anyway, they didn’t stick around after the convention, though in the coming days I saw solo crows (those who believed in her vision? Who believed in the mixing bowl?) panting on the wire above our house in the sweltering heat.
My daughter Sylvie and I celebrated the lifting of the mask mandate by going to a couple of galleries in northwest Portland yesterday. For the first time in more than a year, we went inside a space without covering our faces. At the Elizabeth Jones Art Center, there is an exhibit, Calling of Birds, which features exquisite paintings, sketches, encaustic work of birds. So many of the portraits capture the bright eye or hunched shoulders or humor of the creatures – the work clearly comes from close observation of detail and it reminded me that I want to move in the world and inside of words with this same attention. In the meantime, I’ll keep refilling the glass bowl.