Sunday, April 18, 2010

The animals have something to tell us

Palm trees on our block are smooth-trunked and otherwise. The one rising past our dining room window belongs in the second category. Approximately the color of a well-loved, once-brown teddy bear, its texture is inhospitable; shards of fronds jut through whiskery fibers. It does not invite climbing - it is without purchase, branches, or a coconut treasure at the top. Yet this past week it became the object of burrowing fascination for the largest crow we have seen locally.

He (gender unknown, but supposed) had a wingspan nearing that of hawks which circle at higher altitudes. In full flight, destined for the tree growing some eight feet from the window, he appeared black-caped and fearsome. His quarry was on the street side of the trunk so once he had gained a foothold and settled into his task, the width of his densely black body was visible on either side of the palm. Something tasty had made a home for itself under the scratchy surface and our visiting crow - not observed before or since his two morning arrivals - was relentless in beaking his way through to retrieve it. His departing flights made this Harry Potter fan think of Professor Snape taking haughty leave of some Hogwarts chamber, robes swirling.

Crow arrived, crow departed, the week marched along. On Friday, I was surprised at the sound of a parcel being left on the doormat, as nothing was expected. Sent by my step-mother, solidly-packed and weighty, it contained more unearthings from my father's files. As he has been gone more than 15 years, she and I are both surprised that new material keeps appearing. And what I received were examples of writing, both by and about him, and photographs, things which I never knew existed.

There was a folder of poetry he had begun when he was 16, bound issues of a science fiction magazine he edited and published in 1939, articles about awards he'd won for his writing. In a self-promoting pamphlet, sent to editors as he sought new writing markets, was a copy of the New Yorker review of one of his children's books which said, in part, "The tale is slight, but it is written in a language of such memorable tranquility...that it is to be hoped...will be prolific..." On a sheet of green paper with faded edges and rust marks from the notebook's binding, I found a poem called, "On Saying Goodbye to my Son at the Coolangatta Airport," which marked his Australian visit with my brother in 1969.

I would call the whole a box of magic, communication from the past, bearing witness to the power of DNA, emphasizing his ceaseless determination to bend words to his will. I am not sure he realized how thoroughly he succeeded. The piece about my brother, its affection understated yet more intense for its matter-of-fact tone, was so clearly a message of love, lost in a cosmic mail room for 41 years, delivered at the perfect moment.

Crow, as a symbol, tells us of the creation and magic all around; he tells us to look beyond the present range of our vision. Crow is the keeper of sacred law and knows the mystery. And crow represents the concept of no time; in him past, present and future are all of a piece. His messages are from the cosmos, beyond time and space. He provides long-distance healing and reminds us to value ourselves, including the shadow aspects. For delivering visionary gifts, he and my step-mother are a powerful team.

3 comments:

Donna B said...

WOW. What a great story. So that is where your writing abilities stem from...

How are you my friend? We are awaiting the answer to our counter offer to the potential buyers for our home...

I have been suffering from a dry socket from my extraction. Something to keep me preoccupied instead of my indecision whether to sell and move or stay....

Erin in Morro Bay said...

Crows, palm trees, and unexpected packages - three of my favourite things! What a joy to receive these random gifts from your father long after his departure. Would love to read that nicely reviewewd children's book.
Erin in Morro Bay

grrl + dog said...

I can imagine the feel of old paper and rusty staples.

And a glimpse into his world at the time, what a

gift. Crows are also family birds.
a magical visit.