Thursday, May 24, 2012

Men, Memories, and Crows

This will be a strange post.

First, author Jennifer DuBois wrote an article called "Writing Across Gender" and it's fantastic. She is the author of A Partial History of Lost Causes, which is written from a male protagonist's perspective and the article talks about gender and point of view and how fiction reflects the real world. I owe Catherynne Valente for sharing this article on Twitter.

The article says so many of the things I've tried to express before on this blog (here, here, and especially here) and in conversations with male friends who tell me they, "Just don't like reading books that are written from a woman's perspective." Thankfully, DuBois manages to talk about the issue without losing her temper (something I struggle with).

Second, speaking of Cat Valente, she wrote a lovely blog post about going back to Scotland, which spoke to me on several levels, one being my connection to Scotland and the another being my tendency to walk with ghosts. It's a lovely, short read and I highly recommend it. Also there's a reference to The Labyrinth so...yeah. It's pretty much awesome to the max.

And finally, I live in a crow neighborhood. Have I mentioned this before? When I lived here as an undergrad, I used to make jokes about the eternal struggle between the crows and the seagulls in this area of Maine. Oh haha, College Student Jennifer, you are so whimsical and eccentric. Right?

Wrong. That shit is for real.

We're talking straight up aviary gang wars. And yes I'd love to write a story about that someday. It's in the back room of my brain, gnawing at the dark and getting bigger.

So, anyway. I make sure to be polite to the crows. I'm not even joking. They've done experiments that suggest that crows remember humans, can differentiate between them and will communicate information about particular humans to other crows. So, I say hello. I am polite. It never hurts to be polite.

About ten minutes ago, there was a lot of crow noise outside. I looked out and at first I thought there was a dead crow splayed out on my neighbor's driveway. I'm actually somewhat proud to admit that my first reaction was to lunge for my camera.

"Are you guys fighting?"
"Hmm I don't see any blood..."

No. Not fighting.

That's right, Gentle Reader, it was the sexing.

"Ooooh. I get it."

The best part of this is that my mom always tells this story about how when she was a teenager she made her friends stop the car on the side of the road because she thought she saw two birds fighting and wanted to help. She didn't know she was interrupting a Special Moment. Given that I've heard this story for years, you'd think I'd have known better. But I didn't.

It was so strange to watch them (yes, I kept watching). They were locked together, talons hooked to each other's breasts, wings splayed.

While you look, imagine the sound of another crow hunched on a nearby rooftop cawing like crazy. I like to think that the two on the ground were thinking, "Gee, thanks, buddy. We really appreciate that encouragement."

(After a while) "Are you stuck?"

Finally I did say, "Are you stuck?" out loud. The crows suddenly seemed to realize they were utterly exposed in the middle of a driveway, or that they were being watched by someone other than their encouraging friend, and flapped off in a huff.

They are probably going to tell the rest of the Crow Clan that the girl with long hair and glasses is a total creeper.


  1. There are, apparently, Hawaiian Crows, but I have never seen them (likewise a Hawaiian Hawk which has also remained elusive to my eyes). I am however, witness to at least the courtship of many a rock dove/pigeon.

    Blame it on Biology 101 and the profesor's desire for us to recognize all 16 species of birds on campus. Blame also goes to a psych professor (the class was on human sexuality, but was really Evolution!). One of them told us why the plover changes color and why rock doves coo and flip up their tail feathers. I've seen it too many times to count, along with the "are they fighting?" but never the "no, they're gettin' it on".

  2. Every word you write makes me more and more sure that I need to move North and be neighbors so we can hang out all the time. We would write, walk in cemeteries, and drink tea.

  3. THE SEXING!!!! wow.

    The only thing I could possibly wish is that they might have been magpies.

  4. Well, now I feel like I need to invite all of you to my eventual house in Maine for some sort of creepy bird sex watching and tea drinking party. That sounds...perfectly normal. Right?

    I can see it now:
    "You don't think they're stuck, right?"
    "Oh, they're fine. Tea cake?"