Friday, December 18, 2009

At What Point is it a Murder?

This morning, as I was taking my youngest in to school, and listening to 99.7 Woof FM's "Dumb Crook News", I happened to pass the aerial antics of over 30 crows, and it made me wonder: At what point is it considered 'a murder of crows'? How many does it take?

Turns out to be harder to internet search than you might think, but the -general- consensus is that it's a murder once there are at least 15.

There are several tales relating to the origin of the term. But as this blog isn't actually about that, I'll just post the web addresses, so you can sate your curiosity:

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/crows/crowfaq.htm#roost
http://community.livejournal.com/word_ancestry/58301.html
http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2008/01/murder-of-crows.html

No, outside of the brief question wondering the above, what really happened in my mind while I watched the crows this morning was two things.

First, I went through the lyrics of one of my favorite Counting Crows songs, "A Murder of One"

Well, I dreamt I saw you walking up a hillside in the snow
Casting shadows on the winter sky as you stood there counting crows.
One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for girls and four for boys,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told.

Which turns out, after -another- internet search to have a long and varied history itself.
...Again, very interesting, but not what I'm after:

http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/boardarchives/2003/feb2003/doescountingcrows.html

No, this blog is actually about the second thing that passed through my mind in that moment. It was a montage of the crow and raven related moments in my life.

I have always thought of them as good luck. This could be because they clean up the road kill on the side of the road, so I neither have to look at nor smell it. Or it could be that, when I was young, someone mentioned them being 'bad luck', and being the ornery child I was, I decided that wasn't going to be the case... That's -exactly- how 13 got to be one of my favorite numbers, so there's precedence. But more likely, I suspect that it's because nature, almost as a rule, has always fascinated me and filled me with wonder for the things in the world around us. And, lets face it, large numbers of ANY bird flying across the heavens is awe inspiring.

But I also associate the bird with my husband Mark. He too has always been fascinated with the bird, though on a more personal level than I. So when my family moved away from his, seeing a crow would remind me of him, even though he was too far away to actually see, and it would make me smile.

My mother, on the other hand, feels -very- differently about them. To her, they're an evil omen. When I was a teenager, I had the habit of naming the vehicles. She actually sold a brand new car because I named it Raven.

My children each have four names, just like I did when I was born. And their names spell out a word. My youngest was going to spell out 'crow', but when my mother found out, she begged us to at least change the first letter to a 'K' because she was superstitious that we would be cursing him. We changed the first letter, not because we agreed with her, but because it really distressed her so.

And ever since I was a child, as far back as I can remember, stepping out in the morning to begin my day, and hearing the crow's caw-- I always took it as them saying, "Good morning" to the new day and to me. My children have grown up with my responding, "And good morning to yourself as well!", that my boys will also talk to crows.

There are some mornings, when we're getting out of the car in the morning at my youngest's school, that he'll grab my arm, all excited, and say, "Momma! Momma! Look! There are (fill in the number between one and seven, usually) crows this morning!....Good morning crows!!" And when one caws back, he'll say, "Look Momma! It wished me a good morning too!", and starts his day, and mine, in a good mood.

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