Dear Readers …

Here is something of what I wanted to write last week, which ended up being a whirlwind of packaging and shipping pre-ordered City Crow Stories books in the middle of having the floors in the main part of our house re-finished.

“Before” floors with baffled pets

I’d hoped that the launching of the book and the floor project would fall at different times but they seemed pulled inexorably together like catastrophically aligned meteors. Luckily the convergence was more along the lines of domestic chaos than planetary cataclysm.

Outdoor kitchen set up — almost like a camping holiday!

Because the pre-orders came in as we were madly trying to get the house emptied, and I was still waiting for the books to be printed and bound, it was only when I was actually physically picking up each printed order and placing it with the book to put in an envelope that I saw all the names of people who had purchased one.

The “camping at home” might have been a little nicer if it wasn’t the coldest May in recorded history!

As I  packed each book I smiled at all the names I recognized, ranging from old friends to people I’ve come to know online.

I wished I could write a little note with every order, but things were so overwhelming at that point I felt I just had to keep going and get the hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of books on their way. 

So here is, with apologies for the generalization, the note I wished I’d been able to include:

Thank-you so much for ordering the book.
Thank-you so much for your support over the years (some of you since the first studio sale in the small garden shed I shared with squirrels!)
Thank-you all the encouraging, funny, touching, fascinating emails you’ve sent about your own experiences with crows and ravens and about what my work has meant to you. 

Amid the general madness, I’ve felt very grateful to know so many lovely people.

And a PS — many thanks to those of you who’ve received your City Crow Stories, read it and written back with such kind comments.

Lily was miraculously available to help with some of the packaging. Couldn’t have done it without her!

The Story Behind the City Crow Stories

I first started thinking of creating a book some time in 2020, but the thought just rattled around in my mind,  month after month.

The downside of self-publishing is that you don’t have an editor telling you what to do — the book can be anything you want it to be, which is actually rather terrifying.

By the start of  2022 I was determined to get started, but January and February consisted  of more mental flailing, as I became convinced that I had to write a book to Save The World via crows.

Relief came when I realized that I just needed to write a few stories about some crows I know — and let the crows do the saving on their own!

Some of  my goals in creating City Crow Stories were to:

  • make a book that is full of beauty and humour
  • create a lot of visual space to let the crows’ beauty and character speak for themselves
  • tell the story of how I came to love crows
  • help people realize that “my” crows are not the only special ones
  • offer some tips on how to recognize and make friends with crows
  • encourage people to take a break from the meta-verse
  • inspire curiosity in other lives
  • as stated earlier, save the world, via crows (a girl can dream …)

Meanwhile, on the home front, the floors look lovely. They’re still full of character, but with a lot fewer splinters. In fact, they look SO good we’ve now got to re-paint the walls to match their splendour, meaning we’re still semi-camping out.

The pets remain puzzled …




© junehunterimages, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to junehunterimages with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Wherever You Go, There You Are

This was just one of the plethora of handy sayings my mother kept in her linguistic back pocket.

While “wherever you go, there you are,” sounded pointlessly obvious when I was younger, it’s turned out to be something in which I find more truth as the years go by.

The saying, and my idea of what it means, turn out to be pretty fundamental to my love of crows, as well as the way in which I look at the world overall.

I explore it a little in, City Crow Stories:

Crow watching is an ultra slow version of birdwatching; instead of darting about in search of new species to add to a list, you find yourself looking at things more closely and seeing the wonder there. My mother had an extensive repertoire of handy sayings, and when I’m enjoying time with the local crows I can always hear her saying, “Wherever you go, there you are.” 

The truth of this saying has become more apparent to me as I get older. It also seems profoundly linked to the increasing need for us all to start finding more real joy in what we already have, and where we already are.

I was reminded this week about the many, many other sayings my mam (as we call moms in Newcastle) used every day when our local morning radio show had a call-in contest for remembered maternal aphorisms. There were some great ones and the more I thought about it, the more of my own mother’s surfaced like flotsam in my cluttered brain.

We knew she was really, really mad if “hells bells and buckets of blood” was uttered. The ultimate sanction for misbehaviour was, luckily, never enacted as it sounded gory: “You’ll get your head and your hands and your brains to play with.” Since she was a very gentle woman, we did not live in nearly as much fear as you’d think such a statement might engender.

Some of her sayings bring back in cinematic detail the occasions when they were deployed. The day she was running to catch the bus with me and my baby brother in tow and tripped on the stairs, spraining her ankle, muttering from a prone position on the sidewalk, “more haste, less speed.” I was quite impressed that she was managing to be so philosophical, but looking back I think she was trying not to scare her kids by crying or swearing, or both.

As a teenager I moved to a faraway town to go to university. During my first term I suffered that inevitable first romantic heartbreak and was feeling pretty crushed. In response to what must have been a tearful phone call, I received a letter from my mom exhorting me to remember that “it’s always darkest before the dawn” and that “every cloud has a silver lining.” She brought it all home with the always popular “it’s all part of life’s rich tapestry.”
Of course, I was still heartbroken, but my mom’s borderline unhinged efforts to give me a long distance boost and a virtual hug did make me laugh and cry at the same time.
And I remember that letter as if it was yesterday, while I can’t even remember the name of the boy I was shedding tears over.

My lovely mom’s been gone now for 25 years, but I think of her every day.

The reason I love the hellebores I post about so often, is that she had them in her garden, and looking at them reminds me of her.

Her death was unexpected and I was a mess. As I was sobbing quietly at home, trying to get an emergency passport renewal to fly to England, my son came to offer some advice. For a four year old more usually to be found ricocheting off walls and furniture, he spoke with quiet authority. He had prepared a “to do” list for me:

  • Remember her behind your eyes
  • Remember everything she showed you
  • Paint your house beautiful colours and fill it with pictures of her.

I try, still, 25 years later, to follow that wise advice every day — and that seems to include having all those handy sayings rattling around in my brain and seeing how they fit into my life as I get older … even on those days when I feel like “the Wreck of the Hesperus” or as if I’ve been “dragged through a hedge backwards.”



© junehunterimages, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to junehunterimages with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Crow Goes Boing

I’ve been thinking a  lot about crow calls after being obliged to make my own rather terrible approximation of one last week — on CBC radio no less! I made an attempt at the most common of crow calls — your basic “caw!”

There are, of course, many more linguistic arrows in the corvid quiver — from their lovely gentle “rattle” to the sharp barking alarm call warning of eagles or other aerial danger.

I’ve written quite a few posts about the amazing language of ravens, but crows have some expressive surprises up their feathery sleeves as well.

In fact, just yesterday I heard one of the local crows making a new call.
It sounded rather like “boing,” but I think it may have been a crow version of the beeping sound of a reversing truck. Due to the huge amount of construction our neighbourhood has seen over the past three years, this noise may have been an influential soundscape element for this crow’s formative years!

This next crow lives near some urban backyard chickens and I think I detect a bit of a clucking overtone to their caw.

Finally, White Wing stole the show last spring with her dog woofing  with really impressive cat meow finale.

So, if there is ever another occasion when I’m asked to do a crow impersonation, maybe I’ll go for one of these!


You may also enjoy:

Learning to Speak Raven

Raven Tutor