Homecoming, belonging, community.
Those words come to me as I watch from my window, patiently waiting.It is the time – late afternoon, almost dusk when the sky changes to a deeper blue. It has become my daily ritual, along with my afternoon tea.
First there are a few. Then, after a brief pause, there are many that follow, in random patterns that grow in strength, flying towards the east. It is always the same. There is a symmetry and dignified elegance to their flight, which is rooted in the inevitability of a long-standing tradition. Crows are returning to their roost. Since the 1970’s, an estimated 3,000 – 6,000 crows share a dusk-to-dawn abode that covers the area of about two city blocks in Burnaby, British Columbia. Forty years ago, trees were more plentiful, but the crows pay no mind to the urban sprawl that has reduced the foliage. This is their place and their numbers do not diminish. Scientists and bird-watchers are fascinated by the daily migration.
The more I learn about crows, the more amazed I am by their brilliance. I am convinced that we have underestimated the intelligence of our fellow creatures that share our world. Crows not only recognize faces, they remember them. They are able to communicate with each other and share information. I read that some experts believe the crows have regional dialects.
I walk with crows that share the pathway along the Vancouver Seawall. While they guard their territory with a proprietary determination, they have come to recognize my presence and agree to pose for my camera. I look forward to our conversations, and suspect that I am at the greater disadvantage. They seem to understand my language more than I do theirs. Even within our age of technology, we have a deep need to connect with our earth and fellow creatures.
There is a bond between us. That is, the need for community and belonging. We seek the company of those we love and feel a kindred bond. Just as the crows gather in the fading light of a April evening, we look forward to the shelter and safety of homecoming.
Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Where we love is home, Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”