Fertig’s new poems

“Poet, publisher and long-time supporter of the writing community, Salt Spring Island-based Mona Fertig (left) has released her first collection of poems in 14 years.” FULL STORY


#36 No more crow whispering

July 27th, 2015

Hi darlin’:

It’s raining in Tahsis. Not much of a rain, more like a teasing shower, but it’s better than we’ve had in a couple of months!

If anyone had asked me back in February or March if the day would ever come when I would pray for rain here, I’d have split a gut laughing. Usually, by February or March we’ve had probably eight to ten feet of rain fall on us; some years up to as much as twelve feet of the stuff. Some old-timers are saying the rivers are lower now than they’ve ever been at the end of August, the small fry are trapped in pools which get shallower and smaller by the day. The water in the pools gets warmer; many of the fry are already dead, the others are at risk, not only of being poached or par-boiled, but they’re easy picking for raccoons, crows, gulls, eagles and herons. There’s no place for them to go to hide or to get away and some say we’re at threat of losing almost an entire run of last years’ spawning. Fish out in the inlet can sense the river conditions are not good for spawning. Those who go out to fish say that while there are lots of fish out there, they’re down at least 300 feet, where the water is cooler.

And still there are those who insist climate change is a myth.

Meanwhile Harpy and Joe Oliver and Pierre Poilievre (our 36-year-old Minister of Employment and Social Development, Minister for Democratic Reform and four-term Conservative Member of Parliament for Nepean-Carleton) are all very chuffed and smiling having announced the improved child credits.  Retroactive to January, I understand. $120 per month per child under age six. I think that works out to $1440 per year per child under six. What isn’t so widely advertised and touted is that the same changes cancel the $2225 non-taxable deduction on your income tax. Per child. So doesn’t that suggest that the parents are going to LOSE $1100 – $ 1300 per year per child under six? They’re making out like they’ve done something great, glorious, and generous. Where is George Orwell when we need him?

Yea verily, the lord giveth and the lord taketh away.

But back to basics. We’re coming close to Liberation Day here. I’ve written previously about Chance (as in second chance), the second infant crow who as wound up at my place. He came with infected eyelids, and it took almost two weeks of smearing him liberally with antibiotic ointment to get that cleared up. His eyes are fine and are changing from bright baby blue. He now has gray-ish eyes which I expect will very soon be black. He has a full set of feathers and, unusual for a crow, has a little bit of a “crest” on the top of his head. Just enough for one of the neighbours to suggest we could also call him Mohawk.

His predecessor was named Corby. Chance is not Corby, and never will be. Corby would settle on my shoulder, then lean against my cheek, rubbing her head up and down against my skin. She was affectionate. She would have been cuddly if she’d had arms with which to cuddle.

Chance doesn’t want to be touched. Period. Keep your meathooks to yourself! He sort of squats, flaps his wings, makes a pathetic sound which is unsettlingly like “maw maw maw.” He opens his beak to display this bright, red, gaping maw. I drop in food, he makes gobbly noises, swallows and opens his beak for more. And when he’s had enough, I am no longer the object of his attentions. For every drop of food which goes in, there is an equal and opposite reaction at the other end.  Could easily call him Stinky.  Have to do a clean up at least twice a day or the entire porch and probably the house as well would be reported to Vancouver Island Health Authority.

I have no intention of trying to “tame” him or make him a “pet”.  I have wanted to turn him loose from the get-go but to do that he had to learn to peck up his food. And I couldn’t find any way to teach him how to do that. Then my ten-year-old granddaughter Lilli came for summer holiday. She’s a great kid! She went out to visit with Chance and took a mango with her. He started his begging and squawking and she gave him an ittybitty taste of mango. Well! He went nuts for it.

Obviously, mango is much more appetizing than canned mystery meat or water-softened cat kibble. Lilli gave him another ittybitty bit, then put a nice piece of mango on his saucer. Then she didn’t give him any more of her mango. He danced with fury, he raged, but he had one beady eye fixed on that bright yellow new thing on his saucer. And finally, yep, he did, he pecked it up. Mango!  Celebration. Lilli gave him a little bit more mango. Very happy crowlet. Next piece went on the saucer. With less b.s. and carry on, Chance pecked up the mango. He yelled for more. Instead of mango he got mystery meat. Not dropped in his mouth, but on the saucer. Total temper tantrum but … eventually he pecked at that, too.

This means we are very quickly approaching the time this little black pirate can be let loose. Liberation day. For Chance and for me!

Wild crows are now coming into my storm porch and trying to swipe mystery meat off Chance’s saucer. He, in turn, tosses cat kibble out for them. I gave him a slice of bread and he tried it but wasn’t very interested. Then a wild crow came into the porch and Chance shoved the slice of bread over to the wire edge of the hutch/cage. Wild crow feasted, Chance watched, and when the wild crow flew off Chance ate some of the bread himself. Another crow came… They “talk” to him and he answers, they very happily clean up what he flips or pushes out of the hutch for them. My hope is all this communal conversation means he’ll have “friends” when he takes to the air.

I expect he’ll come back looking for food and I’ll quite gladly put food out for him.  If he wants to spend the night in the storm porch instead of trying to camp out in a tree, that’s fine, too. It’s been interesting, it’s even been fun, but I’m not in a rush for more crow whispering shenanigans.

It’s almost as much work as having a human infant! Wonder if Joe Oliver would give me $120 for crow sitting?

You take care, m’ darlin’!

Anne Cameron grows pussywillows on the western edge of Vancouver Island. She received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding literary career in British Columbia in 2010. Her 23 books include Daughters of Copper Woman, the bestselling work of fiction ever written about B.C. and published from within B.C. She has banished herself to Tahsis, a small town not far from Friendly Cove where the shenanigans called British Columbia all began.


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