I saw a raven lurking about on campus this morning. I put out my arm for him/her, a little shyly. I got a sort of 'what are you doing, human?' look in return. He/she was not particularly afraid of me, just saw no reason to leave off poking in the grass and come join me. Ah well, I'll keep trying. Today is a soft, faintly grayish day, the greens and red-browns particularly intense, brick and ivy. The raven nearly glowed darkly against the muted backdrop. Mmmm.
The remainder of this post will, alas, be boring. Apologies.
I am terribly, horribly obsessed with corvids. Politely, quietly obsessed, but obsessed none the less. Corvidae is the Linnean designation for crows, ravens, magpies, jackdaws, rooks, pihuls, etc. When I was in Nicaragua, I spent my breaks from construction trying to learn the screechy calls of the pihuls; when I climbed in the Alps, I fed the corvids (blackbirds? Definitely corvids, but very yellow beaks) bits of my bread; when I walk around Seattle, beautiful city of ten thousand crows, there is frequently one on my shoulder. Instills fear in the street preachers, very good thing.
Those who know me well give me crow-things to increase my hoard: a cast resin statue from tithonium, an old-fashioned silver key bound to a black feather from killianpooh, a beautiful raven feather as long as my forearm, brought from Los Alamos by rigel_p, behavioural studies of ravens from maribou. And I am given names, Karasu and Corvi and Ravenschild. And, of course, Featherbrain, from my ever-loving roommates, or "hey, you, bird!" from gfish when he is trying to get my attention in a loud machine shop. And when randomdreams says to me, "I saw some crows today and thought of you," there is no higher compliment.
I'm not sure what it is about them. Other than the fact that they're the most wonderful things your-deity-of-choice thought up, of course. I mean, duh. Rainbow of darkness - did you ever notice they aren't all the same color? Greenblack and purpleblack and yellowblack and blueblack. Elegance of movement, of intelligence, of form. Mythologically, Raven is a creator spirit, a trickster, is Munin and Hugin, who bring knowledge to Odin, trouble and beauty and intellect. Knowledge to prophets, and death to the battlefield.
Partial Cast of Corbies:
(Note: all genders are completely arbitrary. I have no idea which any of them are, and guess based on size or behavious. Except Mendicant. I still, six years later, have no idea of Mendi's gender; I refer to him as male, but english hasn't got a good set of neutral pronouns, which is another rant entirely.
Also, this may seem like a lot, but keep in mind there are several hundred crows whose regular range overlaps with mine. I can call maybe twelve to me. Not very many, considering.)
Mendicant: The first. Latin for "beggar". Intelligent. I've known Mendicant nearly six years at this point. Doesn't really act much like a crow; approached me out of the blue, one day, demanded crackers. Probably invented the crow word for 'hey, this one's a real sucker, come check it out!' (it sounds a bit like Qrrak) - he likes to sit on my shoulder and yell at other crows until they come investigate and I give them crackers too, at which point, he makes a noise suspiciously like 'I told you so'. Introduces new ones to me thusly. Rode on my shoulder into a class at BCC once; I'd kind of forgotten about him. Ooops. Not going to do that again - I do learn, slowly. He seemed to enjoy the resultant chaos immensely; Mendi is trouble with a beak.
Sable: Acrobat. Unlike most of the others, can land on my shoulder without violently disarraying my hair with his wings - a graceful upward little swoop. Showoff, fancy flyer, more arrogant than any of the humans I know (and I know several sysadmins and more computer geeks than you can shake a Cat5 o' nine tails at) A little undersized. Probably male; I've seen him court Velvet, and I think he was acting male - wings half open in display, chest feathers fluffed, tail fanned. I am not a behaviourist, though, and could be wrong. Flies about through narrow spaces, through cherry trees to shower students and fellow crows with petals.
Nocturne: Silence. Nocturne is almost never willing to perch on my arm. I've named her only because she's Just So Beautiful. At least to those of us with silly gothic sensibilities. One always sees Nocture perched high in a leafless tree, or on the bell tower, unmoving and silent, knife-edged feathers fluffed to a jagged silhouette, looking all ancient and wise. Usually on rainy days, or at sunset, too. Cliche, but beautiful beyond easy description.
Velvet: Cheerful, a little shy. Can't resist a shiny thing. Like, for example, the CBRs I had in my ears for a couple of months. Or a zipper, or a shiny barette, or some silver hair. Velvet is the one who somehow ended up with a barette stolen out of the hair of a student and came to where I was sitting, and dropped the barette and became immediately interested in the silver chain about my wrist. I wasn't quite sure whether to walk up to the disgruntled student and say, "here, a crow gave me this," and give the barrette back. I would have liked the opportunity to wierd someone out that much. I get the wierd feeling Velvet would like vixyish, and want to introduce them. And photograph vix dressed goth with a crow on her shoulder. Mmmmmmmmmm.
Satine: So one day shadowblue tells me that I should name the next crow I meet Satine. I have no idea why. Satine is not very used to me, and a little shy and jumpy. Very pretty, kind of purpley. Odd habit of tapping the side of her beak on something, not the tip.
Shadowfax: Feathers always look a little bedraggled; bird beneath a bit thin. Feathers sort of gray - not much color. Sudden movements; goes between stillness and motion instantly.
Nox: One gets the feeling that if she were human, she would be a compulsive liar. Very cautious and considering.
When I think of heaven
Deliver me in a black-winged bird
I think of flying