We all know that there are certain kinds of thrills that are worth the risk, that the forbidden fruit can taste sweetest when it’s a chocolate sneaked from Mom’s birthday gift selection (not that I would know anything about any such thing from my youth!), the extra hour out past curfew when one thinks one’s parents are out of the house, the bouquet picked from a neighbor’s flowerbed en route home from grade school. And there’s no doubt that some are drawn to romance most powerfully when it is risky, when it defies convention, when it defies logic. Is anyone really immune to the lure of breaking with tradition, just a little?
Crows are a great source of pleasure to me. I admire their bold, graphic good looks: wiry legs and strong beak, shining eyes, and smooth feathers accented with iridescent shine. I enjoy listening to their noisy announcements and conversations, knowing that whether one is broadcasting his name in braggadocio or informing the rest of the neighborhood of what she’s discovered, there is often more brainy expression and interaction going than in many a text-messaging flurry from a pack of attention-deficient humans.
Crows can be aggressive and mean-spirited like humans, too, as I well know from working many years on a heavily treed campus where nesting season was Open Season on certain passersby whom the crows chose to bully. But for the most part, when they’re not busy trying to defend their territory they devote a goodly amount of time and energy to exploring and problem-solving and even humorous play, that is also surprisingly easy to see through an anthropomorphic lens. If I see a crow taking a particular interest in anything, chances are pretty good that I’ll find it interesting myself, should I follow its lead.
I am too smart for you by half; you think you’re bright? Don’t make me laugh!
You think me infantile and boisterous, but cannot crack an oyster
And yet, I’ve dined on oysters thrice before you’ve opened one. How nice
That you consider yourselves wise to have your thoughts and synthesize
Them into action, yet still fail to see that mine makes yours seem pale,
When you consider that you’ve got advantages that I have not,
And still I’m able, while you strive and strain to merely keep alive,
When my family and friends were conscripted to help install the artwork for my master’s thesis exhibition, they could not help but note that it would have been a kindness on my part to specialize in something a little more manageable, say, postage stamp illustration. Hanging murals of up to nine by thirty feet in dimensions is admittedly more unwieldy than mounting a bunch of tidy little framed life-sized insect portraits or installing a series of elfin sculptures made from shirt buttons and walnut shells. Alas, though I did segue into much more portable forms in later years, it was not soon enough for my loved ones’ sakes.
My verbosity is a similar burden on my circle of acquaintance, as I am not famous for knowing when to shut up any more than I am known for limiting my opinion to those who have actually asked for it. But just as I have learned to appreciate and work at smaller and less physically demanding visual media along with my enjoyment of massive and messy kinds of art, I have a fondness for smaller and less epic essays and poems, too, and have been known to craft these with similar avidity. While scale in no way guarantees quality or lack thereof in any medium I know, it is sometimes a relief to me as much as to my friendly audiences when I get my kicks by producing petite expressions of my inventive urges.
I do realize that it’s a long time yet until St. Patrick’s Day returns, and no, I am not Irish. But sometimes one just needs to emit a silly Limerick or two, and who can stand the suspense of holding off until mid-March? So I’ll just go with the urge—the itch, if you will—and let my Limericks out to play a little early. Or very late, as the case may be.
And let this be a reminder to all of us to avoid being pests and nuisances to others. As my young nephew once shouted at the screen during an epic animated film in which a number of insects were being exceedingly awful to a number of other insects, “Be NICE, Bugs!” Or you could get in big trouble. Nicer is definitely safer.