Standing at the kitchen sink, peeling the skins off a package of chicken thighs, I had a flashback to a time when I lived in the mountains below Yosemite (probably around 1995). There was a mated pair of beautiful ravens that lived along the stretch of Hwy 140, along the Merced river, and I saw or heard them regularly. Their raucous cries echoed off the canyon walls, and they took to sitting in the Oracle Oak outside the cabin. (An Oracle Oak is not a place where a seer in skirts and bells sits for clients, but rather an unusual cross between a Black Oak and a Live Oak, mostly found in the Sierras of Northern CA.).
One day, while cooking, I went to toss the chicken skins in the wood stove, and discovered the stove was cold. I heard Heckle and Jeckle in the tree outside, and decided to see if they would like the skins. I tossed some up into the tree, and they hopped down to check it out. What a racket they made. They played with those skins, tossing them around and then flew off, skins in their beaks.
Since they are (among other things) carion eaters, didn't think the raw meat would disturb anything. More fun than road kill!. H & J were back within 10 minutes. They sat in the tree and "talked" to me for about a half hour before I relented and tossed the rest of the skins up into the oak. Again, the game of catch and they were off. They must have known that they were the last of it, as they didn't return that day.
A week or so later, I started another chicken, and was startled to hear the two of them outside, squawking and hooting like a couple of teenagers. I set aside the chicken skin, and went outside to play with these incredibly intelligent birds.
Over the course of a couple of years, these two came to visit, somehow seeming to know when there might be treats, and on those occasions that there were none, talked, chatted, hopped and danced in the tree, letting me know they were there. I could sit outside on the bench, and they kept me company for hours, acting like clowns, flying away, playing what looked like a game of tag, landing in the oak, and starting all over again. I could watch the sunlight flash off their wings, blue and black streaks of light. They are magnificent, awesome creatures, and I took great pleasure in the short time I had them in my life.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I know that I need the time to escape to that world, and gathering with friends to do something creative, or a project that keeps hands busy while we talk is a way for me to rejuvenate my spirit and my imagination. It lets my subconscious connect with the deep river of creative drive that heals, that uplifts my sense of life, and inspires me to other creative works. It also keeps me going when I don't have much time to dive into things like painting.