Sunday, December 6, 2009

December 6: Crow in Snow

One of my favorite short poems, by Robert Frost:

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
from a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

This morning I raised the bedroom blind to a shining white world, sun on snow, every tree coated with a thin layer of the fluffy stuff. I paused to admire the first snowfall of the season and the sparkling river running through it. Then I noticed some movement on our neighbor's lower lawn: a crow sat in the snow. As I watched, it dipped its body into the snow and flapped its wings. Was it trying to eat something under the snow? Was it bathing? We got about 3-4 inches of snow last night, so the snow came up to the crow's belly. It barreled through the snow a short way and dipped itself in again. A little further along, it repeated this action, wings akimbo. I called my husband in to see, and he agreed that the crow seemed to be either snow-bathing or simply playing. Ravens have been observed sliding down snow banks, an activity for which there can be no practical value, so why not a crow that's delighting in the first snow?

After a few minutes the crow flew up into a tree, shaking off the snow on the branch where it landed. The action reminded me, of course, of the Frost poem above. And in doing so, made me realize that this crow had gotten me through the hardest part of my day--getting up in the morning--with a smile on my face.

Crow bathing in snow--
you too feel the simple joy
of winter's first touch.

As I type this, a crow has several times flapped around one spot on a tree branch, then flown off. The branches obscure a clear view. I have no idea what it's doing. Through the binoculars, all I can see now is a nuthatch winding down the trunk. Who knows what goes through the minds of these creatures with whom we share our world? ... And now, a crow (the same one?) has just flown upriver carrying something large and white in its bill.

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