Archive for the ‘crows’ Category

Woven through with crows

December 30, 2010

Late this afternoon the setting sun lit up the trees behind my house. It’s hard to see them in this photo, but as I looked up through the branches, wave after wave of crows passed over as the birds headed to their nightly roost (if you look closely, you can make out at least four blurry crows, but there must have been close to 100 flying over).


sunset painted trees
bronze threads woven together
by black crow stitches

Crunch time

November 6, 2010

Fall is one of my favourite seasons. I love the colours, the fresh air that’s cool and exhilarating, but not yet cold, and the smell of fallen leaves that brings me instantly back to my childhood. I think I’ve talked in a previous post about how fall always feels to me like the start of a new year more than January does. There was always the excitement and anticipation surrounding starting a new grade or a new university year, new clothes, seeing old friends again, wondering what the new school year will bring, the build-up to our local Fall Fair (which I looked forward to every year), then Halloween and the thrill of roaming around at night with my friends. And something about the grey sky, the sound of geese flying overhead, the stark branches of trees revealed as leaves fall, the smell of the leaves underfoot… seemed to hint of intriguing stories to be told, potential adventures to be had, secrets to be uncovered –as if there was something creative and unseen crackling in the air around me.

Darby’s visit to my blog last month reminded me that I haven’t posted any haiku in a while, so here’s a haiku that attempts to capture some of that fall feeling I’m talking about:

leaves crunch underfoot
crows billow over treetops
bonfire smoke at dusk

Unfortunately, I only caught the tail end of the cloud of crows that passed over these trees on my way home earlier this week, but you get a hint at least.

I took this next photo right before the first (a bill-board near my bus stop). I apologize for the quality of these photos, but I liked the mood.

As the sun sets today…

November 13, 2009

waves of home-bound crows

crest over tops of fir trees

struggling in the wind





The sky is still orange as I type this, so these may be the most immediate images I’ve ever posted! I was concerned that my sunset view might not be as good at my new place as it was at my old. I needn’t have worried. (By the way, it was the crows that were struggling in the wind, not the trees.)

Travel stories

May 27, 2009

At my last book club meeting the conversation went from discussing A Year in Provence to sharing humorous travel stories (book club tangents are often more interesting than the actual book discussions). After hearing about several hilarious mishaps, inadvertent cultural faux pas, and near-disasters (most, funny only from the safety of hindsight and home), it occurred to me that problem-free trips do not make for very interesting travel anecdotes.

Both my trips to Japan were so well choreographed and shepherded by friends, that there was little opportunity for me to get lost, botch anything up, or encounter any risks or pitfalls. The funniest things to happen on my latest trip was having to ask a male friend to help me decipher the Japanese on feminine hygiene products (he was unable to offer any enlightenment as to the reason for the pictures of rabbits and flying pigs). The only other funny thing was, apparently, my pronunciation of Japanese words, which baffled some people and highly entertained others. Also, running out of money 2/3 the way through the trip did lead to some unexpected challenges and suspense.

So, if no problems means no stories, than I’m relieved to say I have no real stories to tell about my trip. However, that doesn’t mean I have no stories to tell. They just wont be about me.

Some of my favourite places and things experienced on my recent trip:

– stopping to eat a box lunch overlooking the Oi River and the lush green mountainside of Arashiyama (storm mountain), Kyoto

– hearing uguisu, the Japanese nightingale, call in the bamboo forest beside an old inari shrine

– shopping for kimono fabric and antiques at Kitano Tenmangu market, Kyoto (and escaping from the rain in a tiny tofu hot pot restaurant)

– eating a delicious lunch of fresh vegetables, rice and grilled tofu braised with miso sauce (if you scoff at the idea of tofu tasting good, then you’ve never eaten in Japan!), followed by exploring a school for samurai, a castle, and a ninja house

– enjoying the view from Kiyumizu Temple in Kyoto and Roppongi Tower in Tokyo

– following the beckoning cats signs to Gotokuji temple, the home of the first maneki-neko (lucky cat)

– experiencing Kabuki

– soaking in a natural hotspring beside a river in Wakayama

– walking down ancient stones stairs to the base of Nachi Falls

– following a crow through the huge tori gate at Kumano Taisha, the shrine of the three-legged crow

– walking on the old Tokaido hwy through the historic town of Seki-cho and sitting in a 370 year old shop interviewing the 13th and 14th generation wagashi-makers (who may or may not be related to ninjas)

– meeting highschool and university students, and chatting with people at my talks

– basking in the hospitality and kindness of friends and acquaintances (old and new)

I came away with two notebooks full of notes and ideas, as well as over 2000 photos (mostly for research and to help jog my memory), so look for a future story — possibly involving a 17th century girl, a wagashi shop, ninjas, a fire, and a trip on the old Tokaido hwy.… (that is, after the maneki-neko story).


wet coast crow haiku

November 3, 2008

I arrived at my bus stop to head home this afternoon, and there were three crows ahead of me in the line (yes, they were literally standing one behind the other in front of the bus stop). They moved slightly before I got this picture, but I couldn’t resist trying to capture the original image in haiku.


 black pavement shines

 three crows at the bus stop

 waiting in the rain


Lately, I’ve been trying to work on the very important creative writing tenet, “show, don’t tell” (sometimes easier to know in theory than to use in practice). It is often tempting, for example, to point out how your character feels instead of letting your description and imagery paint the picture. It is hard to trust that the imagery will convey everything you want and to trust that the reader will get it. Haiku can be a good exercise for practicing this (my revelation of the day). Successful haiku uses a brevity of words and a single image to evoke the feeling of a moment. So, in the haiku above, I held back on saying what I thought about the crows or how I felt about the onset of Vancouver’s rainy season. Does it come across? I’m not sure. Sometimes it’s harder to write a little than to write a lot.

more crow watching

June 27, 2008

Who is watching who? (or is it whom?)

One of the things that intrigues me about crows is that they are always aware of what’s going on around them. While the small song birds seem to focus totally on food gathering and are ready to fly away at the slightest hint of danger, crows take time to play and chat, are always watching you out of the corner of one eye, will wait until the absolute last minute to get out of the way of approaching cars, etc. and are just as likely to try to scare you away than make an exit themselves.


from tree to roof top

black sentinels call alarm

the dog is out


and when they think no one is watching:


caws alert me

crows in the backyard fountain

splashing sunlight


(photo taken on a less sunny day — today they were actually jumping right in, but I didn’t get a picture)

Back yard activity

June 17, 2008

A new crow is having flying lessons in my back yard this morning, making lots of noise as it follows one or the other of its parents back and forth between the ceder trees and the roof of the house. At each stop it pauses to squawk for food, which the parent obligingly pops (or should I say regurgitates?) right into its mouth.

And speaking of hatchings and fledgings, this past Saturday I was among over 30 authors and illustrators celebrating new books at the CWILL Spring Book Hatching. You can check out a blog post and some photos of the event here.

Teetering on the edge…

March 4, 2008

… between winter and spring. Rain one day, sunshine the next, relapse into snow, then sunshine again.

A haiku moment from last week:

sheltering from rain

under the Granville St. bridge

raven calls echo

ravens under bridge

And from today:

a single crow flies

aross a wedge of bright blue

between skyscrapers

Spring haiku

March 31, 2007

scent of blossoms

lures me down one more street

lightens my feet


first sunny weekend

for once the crows are silent

beaks full of nest twigs


sunlit seagulls sail

across a blue sea of sky

beacons of light


Serendipity and the perfect book

February 24, 2007

When I was in grade seven, I used to walk to the local library every Friday after school (about two miles) to drop off last week’s books and select the next week’s. The way I picked the books I wanted to borrow was to walk along the shelves of novels in the children’s section until a spine or cover jumped out at me. This method led me to discover some of my favourite books, including “The Court of the Stone Children” by Eleanor Cameron, “The Book of Three” by Lloyd Alexander (which led me to all of the Prydain Chronicles) and “False Dawn” by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (a graphic science fiction novel, which, as I pointed out to the librarian after I’d read it, definately did not belong in the children’s section).

More recently, this serendipitous selection habbit has led me to books such as “Prodigal Summer” by Barbara Kingslover, “The Mermaid Chair” by Sue Monk Kidd, “Blessed are the Cheesemakers” by Sarah-Kate Lynch (a title I couldn’t resist) and “Down the Rabbit Hole” by Peter Abrahams (a mystery, which I found in the adult section of the library, though it may have belonged in the children’s section, but could work in both, I think).  

There’s something magical about feeling the call of a previously unkown book, or discovering the perfect book by pure chance.

Today, I walked into Chapters, killing time between a dentist appointment and catching the bus home, and not intending to buy anything. I wandered idly down the middle of the store and into thebook cover children’s section, turned around, and there was a bright orange and red picture book: “The Company of Crows” by Marilyn Singer. Poems celebrating crows and gorgeous illustrations (by Linda Saport) full of crows! I hadn’t even known the book existed. Of course, I had to buy it.

The cover and the first inside illustration also reminded me of the haiku my friend Jean-Pierre recently added to the comments of my November “Call of the Wild” post:

Eyes are everywhere
Peering through the leaves and branches
In the rookery