The Gift

Here’s a little piece I wrote at Holmfirth Writers last week.  It’s not true, I’m afraid, but I have heard of cases of similar behaviour by these intelligent birds.


I had gone to the cabin to be alone, to get away from the maelstrom of working life.  But I wasn’t alone for long. When I had unpacked my belongings and cooked myself a quick meal, I sat outside to watch the sun go down.  A large black crow landed on the level space in front of me.  Looking for bugs and snails, I thought – there was precious little open ground in these wooded mountains.  Sure enough, it patrolled the ground with that odd, head-jerking gait birds have, and turned over a stone here and there. But it seemed to find nothing.

That’ll be that, then, I imagined. Off to the next clearing. But the crow did not fly away. Instead, it strutted towards me, stopping a few feet away to stare at me with quizzical black eyes.  “Kraa,” it said.  It walked a little to the left, then to the right, and back towards me.  “Kraa,” said the crow again.

I don’t know what it was. Probably just the novelty of interacting with another creature, maybe with an underlying hint of unacknowledged loneliness.  I happened to have a couple of biscuits with me, that I had brought out to have with my evening coffee. I broke one into pieces and threw a piece towards the crow.

“Kraa, kraa,” called the crow enthusiastically, picking up the morsel and swallowing it. Then it came closer, close enough that I could almost touch it. It called to me again, a softer sound, almost like the purring of a cat. What could I do but give it another piece of biscuit? We continued until the whole biscuit was gone and I, for my part, had eaten the other one. Now at last, as the light began to fade, the crow flew away.

The following morning, I was working outside the cabin, chopping wood, when I heard a sound behind me.  “Kraa, kraa.”

I turned around, and there was a crow. Was it the same crow that had been here last night, or another one?  Then I saw my answer. On the ground at my feet was a small shiny disc – a beer bottle top.  My crow had brought me a gift.


photo. (c) Lip Kee Yap 2008



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