I must preface this story with an earlier story, lest anyone should think I’m mad or something. So, in 2016, I went back to the corporate world for a while. I was stationed in a key location in the military-industrial complex, Baggot Street, Dublin 2.. My desk was positioned on the first floor of a beautiful Georgian building on the part of the street where huge old trees line the centre of the road. If you know those buildings, you’ll know that the windows have little railings around them, not big enough to stand on but big enough for a window box. So one day this noise started behind me while I toiled away at my desk. I turned around and there was a grey crow making shapes in at me. There it was perched on the rail, looking in the window and shouting (cawing or whatever you like to call it) at me. Now, being a person who favours reason over nonsense, I at first thought the bird must be seeing its reflection and having a shouting match with itself. However, I checked the light and the way it was falling on the window and eliminated that as a possibility. So, I just sat quietly and looked at the grey crow, at about a metre’s distance, while it finished its talk and then it flew away. All of which would have been no big deal, had it not happened repeatedly. It would come and make a load of noise at the window until I turned round and looked at it. If I didn’t turn round, it would hammer at the window. Then it would complete a load of funny whistley noises and fluff its wings and then just look me in the eye for ages. Then it would just fly off. It’s a grey crow you know. One day, I was having my eye contact communication with my grey crow friend when my colleague, Nina (a genuine beaut of a person) waved at it to scare it away. I said “Ah Jaysus, it only wants to come and tell us something.” That got Nina annoyed because “Animals do not come to tell us things. That’s wrong! Only the lord speaks to us!” Which may or may not be true. Personally, if I was going to do Christianity, it’d be of the early-Irish Christian variety, with birds and animals and hymns to the rising sun-god. I have provided this preface to demonstrate an established relationship with grey crows.
So that’s the preface over. Now back to recent times. A few weeks ago, I was doing my weekly LSD. Yes, I did that deliberately to make my life sound exciting. It now means, in the context of my current life, Long Slow Distance. That week, it was 21K. Round and round the Phoenix Park. It was a beautiful day, sunny and cool and I was running like a champ. It was the easiest long run I had done so far. I was flying, legs light and they just kept pumping. I ran the hills faster than the flat. I run without headphones and on my own. So there are no distractions from the battles in my body and my mind. The whole thing is like one long meditation or series of meditations. There’s the mantra meditation phase, ‘when I run long, I’m light and strong’ or ‘when I run long, I’m fast and strong’. There’s the Mindfulness-Of-Breathing phase, listening to my breathing and counting to ten and repeat and repeat. There’s the counting with the Rhythm-of-My-Steps phase. There’s the Awareness-Of-Sensation-And-Relax phase. There’s the Sorting-Out-All-Past-And-Future-Rows-And-Problems’ phase. Mostly there’s the ‘I- Cannot- Believe-I-Have- Another-8-Miles-To-Go-I-Am-Going-To-Lie-Down-Here-In-The-Mud-And-Puke-And-Then-Die phase. Except this time, although there were the usual phases, it just wasn’t a battle. I was Usain Bolt trapped in a dumpy white middle-aged with GAA legs woman’s body. I finished my last of 13 miles at 9.5 minute per mile pace. That’s huge for me.
So I got back to the car and threw myself down on the grass to try and stretch because my hips weren’t feeling as Usain Bolt as the rest of me. After a while, I hear this rattling and cackling behind me and I turn to look. There’s a beautiful grey crow standing there looking at me. So I say, “Would you like an apricot?” because, by this stage, I had my packet of apricots in my hand. And she seemed interested and came a little closer and I threw her an apricot and she came closer still to collect it. She backed up to a nice patch of well cut grass and had a few nibbles and I munched mine at the same time. She occasionally threw a few gurgly cackles my way and I said things like, “Yeah I know they’re nice and juicy aren’t they?” and other such small talk. She’d only actually swallowed a small amount of her apricot when she picked it up and walked over to part of the grass where there were a lot of dried grass cuttings. She turned her back to me and seemed to be scratching and digging at the ground. Then she turned and walked back to her nice fresh grass area where she felt we had a comfortable distance between us. She was now minus her apricot. “Did you just hide your apricot?” I asked and she said some cackles back at me. After a while, I walked over to the spot where I thought she’d hidden it, with her standing by making mad noises at me. Please see below photo of the little ground nest she’d made for her precious apricot.
I pulled off the lid to see if I could find it but covered it back over before I stepped way. Once I was at a safe distance, she blustered back over to her apricot nest and bad-temperedly reefed it out of it, marched back to her green carpet area and put her apricot down on the ground and started shredding bits off it. I thought she was angrily going to gobble it to show me what she thought of people who give her gifts, then try to steal them. She was certainly making enough noise about it. But then she picked up the rest of her apricot in her beak and stepped back from the shredded little bits she’d left on the ground. At an even further distance away, she put her apricot down again and started doing these gurgly and chirpy noises at me. She was sharing her apricot with me. She’d shredded up the little bits off her big apricot for me. She probably thought that even though I have quite the shrón, it wasn’t capable of eating this rubbery sticky thing and I needed my food cut up for me.
So I walked back over to the little pieces and I thanked her very much but explained that it was her apricot and that I needed to leave. I walked back to the car and watched her as she came back to her little pieces and then stood there watching me as I drove away. I’m sure she thought I was a complete dope and really very rude. But I’m not actually mad so I’m not going to eat a beak-prepared meal just to be polite.
This then is the story of how I came to be sharing a meal with a grey crow.