Spring: a time of awakening, blossoming beauty, rebirth, possibility…and combat.
There’s the male cardinal who’s assaulting my house. I came downstairs one morning to make coffee and heard him bashing himself against the breakfast room window. “Good Lord,” I said to my good wife, “he’s trying to get into the house. I wonder if he wants a cup?” But a friend set me straight: it’s mating season, and the cardinal is fighting what he assumes to be a rival – in truth, just his own reflection in the glass. This fellow is profoundly territorial, defending his turf, making sure he’s the sole beneficiary of his lady friend’s affections. He’s been at it for more than a month. So has the cardinal in the glass. I give them both an “A” for persistence.
Then there’s the aerial combat I witnessed – a flock of crows chasing a single hawk. They came in across a valley, a dozen crows clustered around the hawk, slashing in to the attack. The hawk was by far the biggest bird in the melee, but the crows made up for their lack of size with numbers and daring. The hawk was clearly in flight, getting the worst of it.
It was easy to imagine what had happened. The hawk had gone hunting, as hawks will do, and happened upon a nest. “Ah, eggs for breakfast! Make mine raw.” The crows had risen to the defense, as crows will do. It was nature at her purest and most basic -- both savage and beautiful.
The writer in me has an attack of imagination. There’s a bird bar and grill – beer on tap, a good band, a billiard table, a baseball game on the wide-screen TV. There’s this male cardinal and a bunch of crows sitting around a table -- drinking, smoking cigars, and telling war stories. The cardinal is bragging about how he kicks his rival’s fanny daily.
“You have to do this every day?” asks one of the crows.
“Yeah, the guy just won’t give up. But I tell ‘ya, he ain’t been near my nest.”
“Well, our hawk ain’t been back. When we chase ‘em off, they stay chased off. You need help with that cardinal?”
“Nah, I got it under control.”
The crows exchange knowing smiles, but they don’t tell the cardinal what’s what. They just let him keep bragging and buying the beer.
Robert Inman’s novels are available on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Kobo e-readers.