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A brief but memorable friendship

The Examiner

“Tarnation crow! Don’t yell so loud. You’re making me deaf in my left ear.”

The guys told me you could teach a crow to talk – just like a parrot. And I believed every word they said.

Friends for a memorable summer.

My story began early one summer afternoon when I was 7 or 8 out on the farm. I came bounding out the back door only to find a crow in the yard that couldn’t seem to fly. Silly me, I thought I would pick him up and see what his problem was. It took 15 minutes chasing him around the yard, bouncing up against the side of the barn and off fences. But determination prevailed and I finally tired him out enough to get a good grip on him.

Grandma checked the crow over, looking for a broken wing or some other reason why he couldn’t fly, but she was as puzzled as I was.

Ted Stillwell

“Land sakes child, it probably flew into the side of the hen house and is just stunned. He’ll probably fly off soon enough.”

I fixed the crow up with a place to stay using screen wire and an old cardboard box, and then fed him fishing worms and Crackerjack. Crow and I became fairly good friends that summer as I tried my best to teach him how to talk. I never had much luck though. All he would ever do is stand there and yell at me, “Caw, caw, caw!”

Grandma kept after me to turn the poor thing loose. “Go outside and teach him how to fly.”

So, off I went, throwing Crow up in the air, only to watch him glide back down to the ground. I kept climbing up on a higher and higher perch, but he still couldn’t fly. Crow loved to ride around on my left shoulder. I would put him over on my right shoulder sometimes, but he would always crawl around the back of my neck and perch over on my left shoulder again. I think I am still deaf in that ear to this day from his incessant yelling in my left ear. A crow’s call is extremely loud.

Crow and I dragged some old boards down in the woods and built a makeshift tree house later that summer. We spent a lot of time up there as I continued to try to teach him how to fly. Actually, he got pretty good about staying aloft from the tree house but would always circle back around and land with a thud on my left shoulder. The dumb crow never did learn how to talk though.

Early one fall morning in the tree house, a flock of crows flew low overhead and made my crow very nervous. He squatted and raised his wings like he was going to fly off, but all he accomplished was hopping around the tree house screaming and ended up back on my shoulder. The next day another flock of crows flew over, and I gave Crow a toss in the air. Sure enough, off he went to join his friends.

Sad as it was to see him go, I knew that was best for Crow. Within 15 minutes, however, he was back on my shoulder again, yelling in my left ear. By this time though, I couldn’t hear anything out of that ear anyway.

The next time it was different. Another flock of crows came overhead, and Crow took off all by himself, never to return again.

To this day, every time I see or hear a crow caw, I think of that summer out on the farm.

To reach Ted W. Stillwell send e-mail to Ted@blueandgrey.com or call him at 816-896-3592.