Off Catalina Avenue
Redondo Beach, California
June 8, 2016
I’ve always liked corvids. These little ave-theropods, the only line of dinosaurs to survive the asteroid hit 65 million years ago, are incredibly smart and, I swear, have their own sublime sense of humor. They come from a genera of birds that have learned to use tools, figure out complicated problems, and easily interact with us humans (even if they are out superiors.)
When I was about fifteen years old, we (my mother, father, and two brothers) lived in an old house, on the water, at the mouth of the Magothy River in Maryland with Willie, a black and white mixed breed mutt, two grey Manx (tailless) cats, a large orange and brown box turtle name Joey, my mottled black prairie rattlesnake (named Henry), and my mother’s annoying Myna bird whose name I gratefully cannot remember.
One day I found a seriously wounded crow by the side of the road – apparently shot in the right wing by a small bore shotgun (something like a .410, I suspect). I took it home and with help of a local vet, managed to nurse it back to reasonable health. Although they were magpies, I named him Jeckle after the Heckle and Jeckle cartoons that I watched every Saturday morning during the 1950’s. Jeckle stayed around the house. He loved the Alpo dog food my mother fed Willie. As did the box turtle. In the late afternoon they would all converge on the kitchen and on the bowl of wet smelly dogfood sitting next to the refrigerator. Jeckle arrived early. He ignored Joey, I suppose reasoning that a box turtle really could eat that much, but blocked and grumbled at Willie. Every day they performed the same square dance across the linoleum floor’s black and white checkered squares. Finally Jeckle would dart between Willie’s legs, hop on the edge of the bowl, and begin eating. Willie for reasons that must something to do with the bewildering psychodynamics of the domestic canine’s mind, stretched out on the floor waiting for the crow to finish.
In the fall, Jeckle would fly off and return a few days later. The interval grew longer until one day he was gone. I never saw him again. Every day for a couple of weeks Willie would come into the kitchen and stretch out on the floor waiting for Jeckle. Sometimes an hour would pass before he’d get up and uncertainly wobble over to his food bowl.
Keywords: Alpo, Ave-Theropod, Birds, Corvid, Crow, Dinosaur, Heckle and Jeckle, Jeckle, Magothy River, Maryland, Maryland, Southern California
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