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This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realise it is play. The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is. I’m here to tell you that the path to peace is right there, when you want to get away. When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it. If you miss the present moment, you miss your appointment with life. That is very serious!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The way of the crow

“If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.”
-Rev. Henry Ward Beecher mid 1800’s

W&N watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm 
Black Crow (Corvus capensis) 

There is little wonder that crows are very often the subjects of legends, folk-tales, and storytelling traditions around the world, all of which is very deep-seated and arising from myth and folklore thousands of years old. Anyone that has ever spent time with a crow will know how absurd these myths are and that Crows are no more ‘evil’ or ‘dark’ as depicted in these legends than a canary in a cage.

I make those remarks in light of the life I shared with Coco, a Black Crow (Corvus capensis), over the span of twenty years. She was keen of sight and hearing, and her other senses were no less acute. As was her sense of humour! She loved to mimic men laughing, producing the exact deep resonance of the male voice. She would also have a conversation with herself, changing voices as she went along, which she reproduced from the garden staff talking to one another. Another favourite of hers was hooting like a car, getting everyone in the household to go outside to see who has arrived. She would also call someone by their name at the top of her voice, also getting that person rushing outside to see who was calling, then uttering a long, low laugh, as if enjoying the havoc she’s causing.

She loved to play tag, pretending to peck your foot, getting you to chase her around the garden. And of course, one ‘myth’ that is absolutely true, is a Crow’s love for shiny stuff. No tea tray was safe unattended outside, as all the spoons would disappear and any jewellery lying around the house was at great risk!

A valuable lesson we could all learn from a crow is that they never “stuff” themselves with food. She would only eat until she was satisfied and then take the rest and hide it all over the garden, ready to be picked up at a later stage.

It is this kind of sensitivity that makes crows and other corvids legendary birds.

Coco passed away at the age of 27 in my garden (Tarlton, south Africa) after a stroke and I can honestly say no other animal enriched my life like she did.



  1. What an amazing story about Coco! Was she a pet, or just a neighbourhood bird that frequented your home? I have heard that crows are very intelligent, and your story backs that up.

    1. Hi Kristie, Coco was my pet. She was given to me at the age of 7 with a broken wing and after that healed, she couldn't fly and stayed with us for 20 years, not caged, when she eventually had a stroke and I had to have her euthenased. But she left us with many beautiful memories.

    2. Thanks for answering my question! You are the first person I have known to have a crow as a pet. It sounds like it was such a wonderful experience. It must have been heartbreaking to have her euthanized.

    3. Totally heart-breaking Kristie, my heart still aches when I think of her and whenever a crow flies over, I have this irresistible urge to hold it! Twenty years is a long time to have 'someone' in your life. One day I'll write her story....


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