I always love to see crows, but I must admit I’m always a bit sad to see them typecast as harbingers of death and all things spooky, especially at Halloween.
I was torn between excitement at seeing a crow on a book of stamps I just bought at the post office, and disappointment that they were supposed to be “haunted”.
My new “red sky crow” pendant would seem, at first blush, to be part of the problem.
But, I’d like people who wear it to know the actual story behind the image. It’s a story that paints a truer picture of people being far, far scarier than crows.
This summer in Vancouver was rather frightening. I wrote something about it in my early blog, Crowpocalypse 2015.
In some ways it was great — day after day of dry sunny weather. Great for the beach and outdoor activities. But it was a brutal summer too, with the drought making the usual summer wildfire season much more severe. Lack of water made it a disastrous summer for wildlife of all kinds.
During the hottest part of the summer I was in the habit of getting up early to walk and work before it got too warm. In July there were so many forest fires in the surrounding areas that Vancouver was blanketed in smoke for several days. At dawn things looked particularly apocryphal when the sun rose, an eerie red ball on the horizon.
Smokey the Crow
So, this is where the Red Sky Crow came from. It’s not a spooky Halloween Crow at all. In fact it’s a “wake up people and smell the climate-change coffee” sort of crow.
Red Dawn Crow
It just so happens that the colours of the image and pendant are perfect for Halloween and fall – but if you do wear it, or see someone else wearing it — remember (and share) the real scary story behind it.
I suppose everyone has their own opinion of crows. I think of them as beautiful, wise, powerful, agile, funny, social and symbolic, but never spooky.
And don’t forget, tomorrow …
If you’d like to celebrate the beauty and intelligence of crows all through 2016, check out my City Crow calendar.
If you’ve been wondering where Eric the crow is these days, read on.
After a rather long day in the studio I was faced with the choice of a “feet up with tea” break, or a short walk. Luckily the sunshine outside persuaded me to go for the latter.
I do love autumn. The special light, the sharpness in the air, the colours. All were on offer for my half hour walk.
Maple leaves in bright sun and shadow
I set out in the direction of Notre Dame School at the end of our street and to my delight, as soon as I reached the corner, there was my old buddy, Eric.
Eric in his new schoolyard territory
He used to be in my garden all the time last winter, but he moved his family over to the school, with it’s stand of tall Lombardy poplars, for the nesting season.
Lombardy poplars at Kaslo and Parker
Since then, my garden has been “claimed” by Vera and Hank who tried and failed to raise a family in the big tree just across the alley. They vanished some time over the summer to be replaced by George and his family, which includes an ailing baby crow. Recently there’s been a bit of a territorial conflict with George defending “his” space from other crows — which may include Eric. It’s hard to tell who’s who when they’re swirling about in the air. Much as I’d love to have Eric back in the garden, I pretty much have to leave it to the crows to sort out their own pecking order.
However, I do try to visit the school corner once a week or so to check in and see if Eric is still there and looking well. And, I am happy to report, he is.
Eric, looking good!
After a short chat with Eric (crazy crow lady alert!) and the donation of a couple of peanuts I found in the seams of my pocket, I walked south a bit and then west along Charles Street.
As you may know, I have a bit of a hydrangea obsession — particularly at this time of year when they are a bit faded, but displaying gorgeous moody and subtle shades.
Yet another version of hydrangea’s autumn colour palette.
The long view down Charles Street, with the sun behind the maple and dogwood trees created an explosion of autumn colour.
Maple leaves with pedestrian in early evening light.
A bonanza of fallen berries on Penticton Street. When we had two Labs we had to avoid this street in fall, because they’d just stop to feast. With disastrous results later … Those berries always remind me of Molly and Taz.
A bounty of fallen berries
Post-swim Taz and Molly. Miss those dogs!
Gold and Scarlet
Finally, it was time to head home. At the corner of Parker and Slocan, I was greeted by George. I knew it was him at once because of (a) the meaningful look and (b) the sick baby crow he was with.
George was surprised to see me out of my usual garden setting, but immediately recognized me.
George’s magnificent armour plated feet reflected on a shiny fence.
George followed me the block home. We walked (well, he flew) down the alley.
Now that the leaves are mostly fallen, you can see the nest where Hank and Vera tried their hand/claws at raising a family in the spring. Hopefully they’ll succeed next year after this spring’s practice run.
Back at the garden, George settles himself on the studio roof, waiting for a few peanuts.
Home Sweet Home!
I only had half an hour “off”, but I felt as if I’d been on a proper little mini-vacation!
You can see portraits of Eric and George and the other local crow characters on my web site in the Crow Portrait series. The current gallery is about to be retired (on Oct 31) and replaced with a new series.
My City Crow calendar features all pictures of Eric and his family, taken in 2014 and 2015.
Happy autumn. Remember to get out and take a walk. You never know what (or who) you might see.