Tofino's Crow Girls and Crow Boys
by David Floody, Tofino
In Charles de Lint's fantasy novel, Someplace To Be Flying, the hero is saved from a vicious mugging by two spike-haired, black leather-jacketed 'crow girls,' Maida and Zia. One second, a pair of crows is watching from above. The next second, the two shape-shifters materialize and make crow-bait of the mugger with sharp black switchblades.
Who could have guessed I would have the same experience with Tofino's crow girls and crow boys?
In the eight months I've lived here, it's clear that the Crow Clan is as much a part of the community as the human residents. I don't mind sharing the real estate, as long as they act like crows: trailing me and my groceries across the Co-op parking lot; taking noisy, bad-feathered baths in my driveway's rain-filled pot-holes; brazenly stealing various building scraps from my house site for their own nests; and even scraping away my sleep like Satanic belt-sanders with their too-early wakeup caws.
I know they're smart.
A neighbour told me recently that she and her young daughter were climbing the low branches of the amazing cedar in front of St. Columba church (if you see its inviting shape, you'll understand why even adults can't resist it) when they saw a crow with a round pilot biscuit land on the midden soil nearby. It flew off a few seconds later without the biscuit. Curious, they examined the shell-flecked soil and found the cracker--neatly covered up by half a clamshell. The perfect camouflage! You would never have noticed it was there.
That should have been my lesson: food in the hand is human food; food on the ground is crow food and crow bait. It's a fundamental law of the Crow Clan.
Sitting with my grocery bag on a bench at Meares Park last week, I decided to peel and eat an orange. I was enjoying the wildly beautiful view of the harbour and the sage-coloured islands, with Lone Cone Mountain and the Catface Range spread across the horizon. Yes, there were a few crows on the electrical wires nearby. But, like the pilot biscuit, I never really noticed them at the time.
I had dropped the first peel on the ground, thinking it was biodegradable and acceptable, then changed my mind and reached down for it. Don't believe 'the hand is quicker than the eye.' This is your hand and a crow's eye, and the crow is the one with the switchblade beak.
One second the crows were on the wire, and the next second they were on the ground in front of me. The first stabbed my hand with its beak, the other flew off with the peel. Yes, 'stabbed' is the word. There was my scream of pain and surprise, and actual blood.
I had been mugged!
Wiser now, I headed home with my groceries, trying to remember where we kept the Polysporin.
David is a recent member of the Clayoquot Writers Group, who from now on will keep one eye on the birds.
Tofino crows: In the eight months I've lived in Tofino, it's clear that the Crow Clan is as much a part of the community as the human residents.