Thursday, May 24, 2007


I have a special fondness for crows. During my university years in London, Ontario, I enjoyed seeing a family of crows return every year to the same stretch of trees that lined the long driveway leading up to Brescia College. I would walk past them on my way to class every day, and their large, bold black figures fascinated me.

Years later I was walking through an older neighbourhood in London when I suddenly felt something land on my head. I immediately stopped in shock, and moments later the crow that had alighted on me hopped down onto the sidewalk in front of me, then turned and cast me a curious eye. We stood together for an endless moment, staring intently at each other, before the bird casually flew away and I was left to continue my walk, bemused.

Shortly after this I began taking singing lessons, and eventually came across a song that I loved to sing. It was a German Lied from Schubert's song cycle Die Winterreise (Winter's Journey), called Die Krahe (The Crow). Click here to listen to a recording (scroll down to track 15). The song tells the story of a man near his life's end, followed ominously by a carrion crow as he walks out of town.

I was terribly upset when the crows began dying in southwestern Ontario, victims of the West Nile virus. For several summers the skies were empty of their raucous cawing and sweeping black forms. Sometimes I wondered if they'd ever return to visit me again. I'm happy to say that I often hear crows now, as I sit working at my desk near my open apartment window.

This is another drawing made with Crayola washable markers, sprayed with water to make the ink bleed.

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