by Don Two
A tale of a man, a crow and a raccoon.
|I am in all truthfulness happy to tell you about Dirk Samuels, and of his most unusual experience in the local woods not too far from his home. I would not be surprised if you find the story incredible--Dirk himself had subsequent doubts. Indeed, he wondered if dreams had crossed the line where reality begins. Yet in the end, he was confident he retained a semblance of sanity. He did indeed.
It happened only a week ago, and therefore he was confident his memory was fresh and clear. The sun had set but there was still light; it was that soft and misty kind, a soothing light without sharp edges. In the distance the rolling hills seemed serene. Tall oaks added perspective. Gum and chestnuts--those trees, also, added diversity that sings of selection. Birds sat along a barbed wire fence. Dirk had trimmed his forsythia earlier and his red wheelbarrow was overflowing with clippings. Ergo, he decided he would wheel them up into the woods where there happened to be a big pile to which many neighbors contribute. They all refer to it laughingly as, Clipping Mountain. That mini mountain of pruned debris is a habitat for creatures, mostly small.
Dirk heaped the clippings onto Clipping Mountain with his usual verve and then started to leave. But a crow swooped right by his head and alighted on a nearby branch, cawing up a storm. Startled, he tossed the crow a glance and returned a caw in kind. Dirk grinned in mild amusement, yet wondered, Are you laughing at me? As he started back home again, however, the cawing got louder, and the crow flew in manic zigzags blocking Dirk’s way. The crow flew back and then landed atop Clipping Mountain, cawing like crazy his cries of , “Help, help, help!”
Dirk now perceived it that way, as opposed to derisive laughter. He wasn’t sure how he did; he just did. Call it instinct, of some innate understanding of nature. But he knew there was no threat present, but rather a creature in nature pleading for help.
Dirk set the wheelbarrow down and started toward the imploring crow, making his way around the tangled mountain of broken branches, leaves, clippings and natural verdant growth added by time. The insistent crow flew ahead, acting like a directional beacon. It was clear to Dirk that the crow wished him to follow--so that’s what he did.
After a shot trek of about one hundred yards, Dirk discovered what all the fuss was about. Trapped within a snarl of branch and vine was a young raccoon. He was panicked for sure, and he struggled to get free. He was showing his teeth, so Dirk did not get too close. There seemed to be one branch that was the main trapping culprit: If I can move it, Dirk thought, then that might free the poor thing. So he looked around and spotted a long stick, grabbed it, and approached. The raccoon became more agitated. The crow, perched on the branch of an ash tree, kept cawing.
Dirk gave them both a dismissive, “Okay,” and moved quickly. Then with one quick thrust, he pushed away that one offending branch, and freed the raccoon. The frightened masked bandit ran off in a blur of gray fur and disappeared into the woods. And the crow, who had been cawing in urgency, slowed his caws to a distinctive pace of perceived appreciation.
That incident in itself is remarkable enough, but it doesn’t end there. Because after giving the crow a cordial goodbye, Dirk returned to Clipping Mountain, got his wheelbarrow, and started back along the gravel road. He was almost home when the crow flew over his shoulder and dropped a buckeye at his feet. The crow gave him three quick caws, then soared away again toward the woods. Dirk picked up the buckeye and glanced back at the winged deliverer as he disappeared among the trees. Dirk quickly realized that the buckeye was the seed itself--it had been removed from its outer pod covering, and there was no way a crow could have done that. But a raccoon, with its manipulative paws and claws, could. Dirk could only conclude it was a collaboration of gratitude.
Call him a dreamer, or a romantic, or someone treading the edge of lunacy. Yet that is what happened. It was nature; it was harmony; it was indebtedness of the wild.