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An unexpected pandemic friend

     I never expected to make friends with one of these. You know, those big, black—kind of ugly, but not—birds that fly all over the county. There's a tall—like skyscraper tall—palm tree on the other side of our backyard fence. It goes up and up and up like it's trying to reach the moon on moonlit nights.

     This palm tree, recently shaved all the way up to its freshest fronds, is home to a lot of birds, including the big, black ugly ones. A few smaller species live there, too, in friendly cohabitation with the big guys. They peck at the husks left behind after the big shave by the tree arborists.

     Anyway, I was sitting outside, alone in the peace and quiet—too peaceful, too quiet, too alone—of the afternoon of another day in this long year of the pandemic. A year too quiet, too boring, too peaceful—if you can ever say life is too peaceful. The quiet was broken by a knocking sound on the tree.

     I had company! I was not alone! Halfway up the trunk of the palm tree, settling on one if its husks, was one big, black bird. For some weird reason, I felt a kinship. I had a friend. We were in this together. Never thought I'd welcome a big ugly bird as a companion, but there we were, and I did.

     Not knowing if I should address him as Mr. Crow or Mr. Raven—even though I've lived on this property with him and his family and friends for going on eight years now, I've never known if it was crows or ravens I disliked so much as they swooped over and around the neighborhood. And I did dislike them, always afraid they'd drive the smaller, more musical birds away. And they were kind'a mean-looking. But the chirpers and tweeters are still here, so I guess I shouldn't have judged so harshly.

     What a surprise! Why did I feel like I had a friend in this raven/crow? It was just nice to have someone out there with me. My son and daughter live here, too, but the pandemic has made us all feel more alone than usual and this was my new friend.

     Okay. Laugh. I don't blame you. I had to laugh at myself. But you know, it's kind of neat to look at things in a new light now and then. I looked up raven vs. crow. It didn't help. Ravens are larger and go "rawck, rawck, rawck" and crows go "caw, caw, caw," so I think it was a raven, but since there weren't any other black birds to compare him with, I'm not sure.

     You know what? I was going to write about how birds have it made over humans because they can fly wherever they want—no stop signs, no rush hour traffic, no pedestrians to watch out for up there in the sky. They can dip and swoop and have drag races all over. No pre-filed flight plans, no gps routing.

     I guess they have to watch out for too-tall trees or too-low-flying planes, but they can land anywhere from the top of your fence to that nice leafy tree next door or even on the street if they see a pedestrian they'd like to investigate. I won't mention their need for a restroom as they never need to find one. Anything goes. I bet you can vouch for that! As can my car.

     Well, Mr. Raven got in the way of my discourse on free-flying birds, but that's okay. It's been fun remembering my new friend. I hope you find a few new friends somewhere out there beyond your mask as you navigate these pandemic waters. Even a raven or two will do.

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