It all began with that necklace. If you’ve read my blackbird listings in the etsy shop, you’ll know the story. And it’s true… a friend asked me to fix her broken wings. How often in life does such an opportunity arise? It’s turned out to be more than a chance to brighten someone’s day with a repair job. The necklace was so pretty, but somehow, it seemed like something was missing. These wings could be made with some soul and some drama, and as they sat on my desk waiting to be repaired, the vision took shape. When I’d see them from the corner of my eye, I couldn’t help but think, over and over of the timeless lyric from the Beatles… “Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly”. The blackbird wings as a symbol of hope and perseverance had captured my imagination.
I doodled and sketched, sawed and filed, and they took shape in my hands… the wings as I saw them.
A friend stopped by and saw the new little creatures on my desk. “You made THOSE? When will they be ready?” And so I felt that the meaning would be communicated.
Some people see angel wings, and I like that. Angels hold a special place in the hearts of so many, and like them, I have been lucky enough to feel as though I’ve known a few – some still present in my life, and others present forever in my mind. When push comes to shove, those little winged creatures we see everyday and yet often don’t notice as we hurry through our busy days, could they be our ambassadors to the angels? How amazing, those perfect little flying machines we call birds. In my family, we’ve watched them, fed them, protected them. How many times have I spied a hurt bird or a fallen nest outside my office window – suddenly my work comes to an end – and though at times futile, I will spend the next few hours attempting to give one of these tiny emissaries a chance to survive. Years ago, I thought of those big black birds only as predators of the feathered world. Preying on smaller species, disturbing the nests of the sweet songbirds that I admired so much. At the time I lived across from a densely wooded park. In the evenings a murder of them (yes, a large group of crows is referred to as a ‘murder of crows’) would gather and roost in the trees, caw-caw-caw into the dusky evening. I appreciated them only at Halloween. And then in the northeast in 1999, the crows themselves were attacked by a mysterious predator, the West Nile virus. The skies grew quiet as the once boisterous roosts were silenced by this new and deadly disease. And it’s been quiet for a long time now.
A few years after the silence left by the absence of crows settled in my part of the world, I happened upon a magazine article all about them. The clever illustrations drew me in and I took a moment to read. I learned that they are more than predators. They are highly social and mate for life, forming long term relationships within large family groups. Previous nestlings remain for years to help care for the new chicks and participate in the family. They are the most intelligent of birds, and rank among the highest in intelligence of all species. One crow species has been seen to use and modify tools to obtain food. They can recognize and remember a human face and worn their families about specific dangerous individuals. They are observed to grieve a lost family member. The crows I never took the time to know seemed to hold a lesson for me after all. Now I wondered when these dark angels might return.
“You were only waiting for this moment to arise.”
The summer of 2009 was the first time I noticed crows again. Barely a glimpse, but I heard that distinctive call now and again. It will be a long time before the trees will fill with roosting crows, and as a sentinel species they will be subject to that now entrenched enemy virus. But I am hopeful for the crows. This year while weeding in the garden, I heard them again – a family group – in the trees high above me. All
of a sudden there was a load ruckus and I looked up – a couple of big black birds defending their group were hot on the tail of what appeared to be a small hawk. I stopped my work and stared up into the sun. I watched as those elegant black wings sliced through the sky and a satisfied and somewhat sly smile crept across my face. Welcome home, my friends, welcome home.