Dearest Rachel –
Sometimes you don’t see the whole story all at once. Sometimes, what you see at one point might be considered remarkable, but then more happens later that adds to the unfolding story.
Yesterday, we received the strangest visitors; a pair of painters who claimed to have been from several doors down north. Evidently, the neighbors’ place they were working at had a pet crow that got loose, and jumped the fence, and had I seen it, or could they look in our backyard to see if it might be there.
As a general rule, I’m leery of people who just knock on the door and ask to look around, but I’m also a ridiculous soft touch. I open up the gate and let them in. One guy in particular is somewhat apologetic about it all, while the other is looking around intently for the bird. There’s no sign of it, though, and they eventually go their way after a few more apologies.
I find every aspect of this to be odd enough to write you about, although I’m not entirely sure it would fill an entire letter. The only thing that crosses my mind is something along the lines of “I can kind of understand having a raven as a pet, but a crow?” Shades of Edgar Allan Poe, complete with the fact that I have in you a ‘lost Lenore.’
All of which hardly makes for a sufficiently substantial communique. It’s unusual – downright weird, in fact – but is it really worth telling you about?
This morning, however, Jan and Kris are by to work on further clean up to the house, as they do. Kris looks out the back window, and lo and behold:
Well. Those painters weren’t kidding. It’s a real honest-to-gosh crow, complete with a gammy left wing.
So. Now that we know what we have, the idea is to get it back to its rightful owners. A couple doors down, they said. So I head north, and knock on doors.
To no avail. The first couple of neighbors insist that they have no pet crow. The next couple aren’t even answering my knocks. And at this point, Jan and I need to leave, as I have an appointment with the remodeling team, which I expect to put together in another letter entirely, due to it being an entirely unrelated topic.
When we return from the appointment – and lunch, for that matter – we check in with Kris on how things are going. Along with the usual cleaning, she’s been taking crackers out to the poor thing (as it will starve if it can’t get out to find food on its own). Evidently, it’s eaten some of the crackers, as it is left its mark – several, in fact – on the edge of the deck, as birds do. But it has not left the yard, probably due to its busted wing. But with no neighbor to return it to, what’s left to do about it?
As I pay Kris for her services, she recommends I get in touch with animal control, or possibly the police department in general. So I give the former a call.
This is not a typical pet that they’re used to dealing with. Only one officer is apparently trained to deal with birds, and he’s not in at the moment. The officer I’m dealing with on the phone offers to send me to the voicemail of said trained officer, and I leave a message for now. It’s better than nothing.
As I start working on letting you know what’s been going on, there’s a knock at the door. Occupied on the subject as I am, I’m hoping it’s the right full owner, somehow asking after his bird. Wouldn’t that be nice to have a resolution to the situation as I’m letting you know about it?
But no. It actually is the pest control guy that you contracted with shortly before your accident, here to do the quarterly spraying job on the outside of the house. He asks if there’s any unusual circumstances that he needs to address; I mention for him to keep an eye out for the bird, just so it isn’t having to deal with the pesticides he’s here to spray. He is appreciative for the warning, and goes to work, offering to text me once he’s done (which, now that I think about it is more than he’s done in past applications. Up until now, I’ve seen have been the bills).
I resume working on my letters to you – both having to do with the bird and the kitchen – when the phone rings. It’s the animal control officer.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t have anything to offer me. There are no licenses with regards to keeping crows as pets, so the village has no record of who owns it – assuming someone does. So there’s no owner to give it back to you, and nobody on social media has been looking for one – evidently that’s a tool that animal control uses on a regular basis to deal with escaped pets and the like. He suggests that I leave our gate open a crack for the bird to escape, if I’m worried about it finding food. However, he also says he’ll let me know if he hears from somebody in the next couple of days. Well, if the bird escapes by then, that won’t do them any good. I offer to keep the gate closed until Friday, whereupon, if I don’t hear from him, I’ll open it up and let the bird go. He expresses appreciation for my having done my due diligence, and that’s pretty much the extent of it.
So for the time being, whether I like it or not, I have yet another unwitting pet. I wonder if I should get myself a bust of Pallas for it to perch on while it waits.
Post script: Thursday, August 5th. I’m bringing Chompers in from the backyard after an evening’s walk about when I hear a voice behind me. It’s Ted, our backyard neighbor. He asks me if I know anything about the crow, and I gave him a scaled down version of this letter, including the fact that I haven’t seen the crow today.
It turns out there is a reason for that; evidently, its owner got wind of the fact that the crow was in our backyard, and collected him from here during the day. So it seems that the story has a happy ending; The crow is with his owner, and all is right with the world. So evidently, there is balm in Gilead, and whatever shadow there was in our backyard has been lifted… evermore.