The sound is constant in the summer — a steady caw caw caw of crows in the trees, crows in the backyard, crows on the wires overhead, crows hopping down the sidewalk confident and curious.
Or this — black bullets diving against a blue sky, a frantic caw caw caw as one single crow battles an eagle. The eagle spins and drifts — white head, white tail stretched in strength and power, his talons and beak no match for the crow. Yet still, the crow dives and screams, pokes and turns tormenting the eagle until finally he flies off, the crow fast on his tail.
I like to bark at crows as they pick through our grass to find edibles or sit on our fence deciding their next move, but I admire them as well. They are brave. They have courage. They don’t take any guff from anyone or anything. They survive. They are ingenious. They are curious. They are persistent. They are bold and patient and outspoken.
They are everything that I am not and so, I bark at them. It’s all I can do.
It occasionally makes me feel better, but mostly it’s a reaction and before I realize what I’m doing, I’ve bounded off the back deck and am charging at a crow who flies up with a few flaps and then sits just out of reach on the neighbor’s garden shed or at the base of the cedar tree at the corner of our property. Mocking me. Tempting me. Annoying me.
Mostly though, barking at crows ultimately does not yield what I need. What I need is an ounce of their bravery. What I need is their speed and agility and their willingness to face even the toughest predators with a loud voice and torpedo dive. What I need is to feel what they feel inside — invincible.
It’s been a week. It started, as you know, with antibiotics, tummy soothers, and pain medications. It started with liquid meals and very short walks and rain. It started with an ache in my belly, a raspy voice, and the desire to just curl up on the couch and sleep. Bronchitis is no fun. Pharyngitis is no fun. Antibiotics are awful but apparently necessary. Spoon feeding is definitely no fun.
The week ended with the last of the pills, an aversion to yoghurt, a check up with the vet, a change of my diet, warm skies, a big yellow sun and a bit more energy.
I am on the mend, but still bravery eludes me. I am still not that interested in food. I’m still a bit winded after a 30 minute walk. I’m still nervous and jumpy when I hear a bump in the night or residual fireworks booms or if someone moves to quickly.
That’s when I sit on the back porch and watch the crows. They are everywhere it seems and when we walk down by the lake there is always one crow, sometimes two, tormenting an eagle 4 times its size.
Oh how I long to be as strong and brave as a crow. Imagine waking up in the morning and feeling deep inside of you the desire to attack your biggest fears, your most daunting threats? Imagine waking up in the morning with your chest out and your head held high. Imagine walking through life with a confident hop, an assurance that you are wilier, bolder, and more brazen than anyone you meet, that you don’t need to prove it, you just ARE IT.
This week has made me face many of my flaws. Many of them I cannot control — my poor conformation, my low standard of breeding, my inability to stave off bronchitis, pharyngitis, and a subsequent skin infection because (the theory is) I have particular allergies to certain (and beloved) foods. Even my quivering fear of loud explosives doesn’t feel like it’s something I can control, though I did better this year than last thanks to Gretchen’s calming massage and being swaddled in a tent of blankets and darkness.
Luckily, I’ve had friends who have helped me muddle through the fears and the illnesses. Woobie has been with us all week and mid-week we were joined by Olive. Two calm gals, I leaned on them greatly during my times of stress.
And during the day I spent time with Monty whose bravery is dressed in goofiness, whose confidence is couched as curiosity. He, too, fears the fireworks but while on our outings he’s found time to enjoy the warmer weather and help me feel better.
Roux has confidence though the more we walk her, the more I’ve seen some of her fears as well. There are certain parts of the city where she cowers a bit. I’m not sure why, but when we walk that route, I get to practice being the brave one for her. But mostly, Roux is too excited about life and adventure to let her fears overwhelm her. Her confidence exhibits itself in the goofiest of smiles and the waggiest of tails…oh and a curiosity that I’m certain is evidence of her distant genetic connection with crows.
Tyson looks confident to those who don’t know dogs very well, but deep down we’re a lot a like. We are both worriers only Tyson hides his behind his handsome, muscular body while I have wimpy curls (and now a “falling down tube sock” or so it appears where the IV went in!).
Olive’s confidence is so innate, she doesn’t even notice that there is anything to be feared in the world. When the fireworks were at their loudest (and I mean ginormous BOOMS! right outside our door), Olive snored her way through it. It was impressive and perhaps she has the bravery of crows because she is as black and shiny as one. Hard to know.
Woobie is calm most of the time. Yes, the fireworks made her nervous, which required all of us to move over so she could find a safe spot on the family bed, but most of the time, she just calmly waits for the next walk, the next adventure, the next rub on her belly. I find her calmness soothing and so I imitate her as best I can in hopes that osmosis works on a cellular level on my temperament.
Still, it’s the crows I watch most of all. They are impressive. Annoying, too, but mostly impressive.
I hope one day the bravery that Gretchen says is deep inside of me finds its black wings. In the meantime, I’ll keep watching and do my best to learn all I can about being a brave brave boy.
Until next week,