At dawn, I awakened to ravens, flopping among our window trees like sloppily schooled fish. As they got louder and louder, my annoyance turned to anger.
Geese make a din too when they lift from our pond and head for the river, as they do each morning in the warmer months, almost exactly at 7:00. At least that’s a civilized hour, though, and they’re out of earshot in a matter of moments. What’s more, their flight formation looks military-smart. I know I’m an anthropomorphizing fool, but there was something about the raggedness of the ravens’ congregation, both in woods and air, that partly impelled my intemperate scream this morning: Will you get out of here? The flock moved perhaps thirty yards north and resumed its chorus.
By now, the morning has mercifully gone cloudy. I can’t detect the pine-pollen clouds falling like yellow snow, another thing I’d found to fume at, dust coating our windows and getting into our lungs, so heavy has it been this year.
So it’s come down to the birds, who are still at it these hours later, protracting my ugly mood.
Suddenly, speaking of birds, the least expected notion touches me like the brush of a wing, though I suppose I’m thinking of less rowdy birds than these. I’m a man who attributes such moments to God, as I understand that vast entity– which is to say very slightly. But comprehension is not, at least for me, an issue here.
In any case, I abruptly soften. I reason that the higher-pitched and more insistent squalls out there come from this year’s young as the mother birds coax them to start life on their own; and I recall what it can be to have shrieking children, how existence can feel downright futile as you seek to guide them in what you consider measured tones– and what somebody else might hear quite otherwise.
I understand that my fury’s not with a few irritating scavengers, anyhow, but with the world we creatures share, which teems with torture, racism, imprisonment, starvation, and of course with children’s protests. Meek or loud, those complaints are too often met with abuse, or almost worse, neglect.
And here I’ve been complaining about some birds’ racket and reacting with my own violence, no matter that it’s internal. God save me. Yes.
As if my self-rebuke had charmed them, the ravens, young and grown, wheel off. They scale our ridge, leaving behind them a mild breeze among trees. It rises and ebbs in a rhythm, putting me in mind of peaceful breathing.