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Two caws, two caws, pause

—August 2, 2021

A conspiracy of ravens laughs in the towering cottonwood.

I wonder whether it’s the tree’s buzz-cut sideburn, or our backyard neighbor, who called the barber.

We grew the tree from a pup over more than thirty years to its fifty-some foot height. Now we’ve split the cost of a buzz-cut for the backyard overhang.

The neighbor dislikes tree litter. I asked about the towering ponderosa pine she’d felled—one of three—where the ravens nested in years past. Her face puckered, “Ravens…” Over time, she will down all her trees, leaving her yard outlandishly plain.

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted…
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

The cottonwood is one of a score of trees in our comparatively small plot. Junior—transplanted in 2012—is another. (Junior’s fifteen or so feet from the backyard fence: safe!)

We used to feed Junior and the cottonwood (and a small oaker grown from an acorn, and various others) with laundry water. At least there was something cheerful to think about…(shudder)…laundreee (ick). But the new washer wouldn’t accommodate the garden hose poked through the PVC pipe in the garage’s back wall. So puny shower water and rain barrels cry out for help from a rare generous monsoon and the exceptionally ordinary tap.

The tap fills, and sometimes rinses, a bird bath for the ravens. They may now and then drop a hamburger bun to soak, and later come back to fetch the tender remains. They don’t mind us watching from inside, through the window, but they’re most apt to fly off when we broach the door.

Other birds mostly balk at the bird bath when we’re outside, too. I’ve muttered the “C” word. (Yeah, my bad. It’s demeaning to call a bird a “chicken”. And chickens have feelings too. Poultry-Challenged?)

Why did the raven cross the fence? To find a tree. Bugaw!

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