The Crows

High in the trees o’er the rain-soaked earth
The birds all sing to the new day’s birth,
And above it all comes the rasping call
Of the crows in flight as they survey all.

Black wings high over greening fields,
Off in search of a new day’s meal.
Their call’s not sweet and their flight is slow,
But work they must, so off they go.

Their eyes are sharp to the earth beneath
For food to put in their little ones’ beaks.
Scavengers all, as they scout around,
Their scent is keen as they comb the ground,
Back in the nests their little ones cry,
And they must eat, so the crows must fly.

Though oft’ despised, still they carry on;
They do their work and they sing their song.
They have their part in nature’s plan
And their call is heard all across the land.

Well, I may not be with beauty endowed;
My song is hoarse and my voice too loud.
Be my failings quick and my movements slow,
I still have a place in this world below,
And I must work, so off I go
Just like the crow.

By Christine Goodnough

First published in Letters from Home c. 1996 by Christian Robin Writers


I Witnessed a ‘Mugging’ Today…

And Rescued the Victim With My Bare Hands!

Fellow blogger ApronheadLilly wrote a post yesterday about witnessing a murder: she saw a Cooper’s Hawk kill a blackbird in her back yard.  I know that nature takes its tragic course around me all day every day, but I’m too soft-hearted: if I get the chance I do intervene to prevent the slaughter of some helpless creature.  Today I got another chance.

I woke up from my afternoon nap in the recliner and found the living room quite warm, so I went out the side entrance (to our addition) and sat on the deck.  Because it was sunny and mild I left the door open in case one of the cats wanted to join me–and Angus did a few moments later.  Then he went to snoop under the other set of stairs (to our main entrance.)

Suddenly he ran into the house and I decided to get up and shut the door.  Then I saw him inside–with something hanging from his mouth.  He’d ‘mugged’ a mouse?  “Outside!” I insisted several times, but he just stood there looking at me.

Closer inspection revealed that it was in fact a little junco.  He had it by one shoulder, but it was still twitching.  Likely he’d brought it in to play with and here I was, being such a wet blanket.  I ordered him outside again, fearing he’d let the thing go and we’d have to chase it all over the trailer.  When he didn’t budge, I picked him up and carried him out, thinking he’d let go of it any second, but he was still holding the bird when I dumped him on the deck.

Then I reached down and pried his mouth open.  Unmugged, the bird flew away–showing no sign of injury.  He dashed after it, but it settled in the caragana hedge and he never did catch it again.  I tried to impress on him our “NO BIRDS” rule; I doubt it sank in.  To him a bird is a toy and that’s that.

Anyway, now I could say that I prevented a murder today. 🙂

I wrote a story once about a little elephant that finds a child and sort of befriends it.  Later he sees his child friend asleep and a huge snake is about to swallow the child, so the elephant intervenes: he stomps the snake flat.

“No, no, no!” said my writing school instructor.  “You can never have your main character commit a murder!”

“But it’s a snake!”  No dice.  I had to cut out all the violence.  He could chase the snake away, but not stomp on it.

I had figured that a child reader would identify with the little elephant, but I hadn’t considered that a snake would be seen as an animal, too.  In my books, a snake is a snake.  Life gets complex in the world of children’s literature.

Back to today:  After my daring rescue, my husband and I went for a drive just for anyhow.  No signs of green grass in the ditches yet and ice patches still cover a lot of ponds, but we saw small flocks of Canada geese heading north.  And we have this flock of juncos hopping around our yard.  One less would never be noticed, right?

Comforters for Children, Timing for Birds

A friend and I went shopping for fabric yesterday.  It was a pleasant outing, but this morning I’m dealing with the consequences: a plugged sinus that prevented me from falling back to sleep when I awoke at 5am.  So I’ll write instead–and likely resort to decongestant before long, since I’m scheduled to cook at the Villa today.

We two shoppers are members of the Church’s Sewing committee and it’s part of the committee’s job to purchase fabrics to use as comforter tops and backs.  We hit two fabric stores and came back with a bunch of fabric and a big roll of batting.  I tend to be sensitive to the chemicals in new fabrics–and more so if they are a bit musty–so at times I get a shopping bonus of sinus problems.

On Sewing Days we, the Committee, match and measure these fabrics; we sandwich a layer of batting between and pin them together for some ladies to tie.  Last Sewing Day they got about eight comforters tied and there are two Sewing Days a month Nov to March so it keeps the Committee hopping to keep the ones who tie supplied with blankets.

These blankets go to inner city schools; from there they are distributed to families who need them. The Sewing ladies also cut and sew gowns for the palliative care wing of one Saskatoon hospital, and layette blankets for the nursery of another.   Our work seems to be much appreciated and it gives the ladies a pleasant day of visiting & fellowship.

We had a beautiful day for shopping: sunny and spring-like.  All we need now is for the birds to start coming back.  (But they better not!  March can be nasty, April iffy.)

I was reading in an old devotional booklet this morning about the Swallows of San Juan Capistrano.  The writer makes reference to the old song, “When the Swallows Come Back To Capistrano” and says how reliable this event is.  They come back on March 19th and leave Oct 23rd every year without fail.  Even on leap years.  Incredible timing!

We, too, have seen an example of the timing of wild birds and it really is amazing.  Back when we lived near London, Ontario, one day for an outing our family went to Jack Miner’s Bird Sanctuary in Kingsville.  Jack Miner became known as a friend of Canada geese and he left this sanctuary so others could come and observe these beautiful birds close up.

His descendants were maintaining the property–hopefully still do; one of them went out every day at 4 pm to feed the birds.  When we arrived at 3:45 pm we walked around a bit and saw about a hundred or so Canada geese in the field obviously waiting for their supper.  At 3:50 a few dozen more had joined them.

At 3:55 the sky was full of Canada geese, hundreds of them coming in from every direction.  (I told my husband this is just like Mennonites getting to Church. :))  By 4pm they were all settled in the field waiting; I don’t remember that there were any latecomers.  It wasn’t the sound of a motor that brought them, for they had to wait another twenty minutes until the food came.  So what inner clock would give them such precise timing?

For an answer to this and other intriguing questions about the natural world, read Job Chapter 39.