One Yellow Dog, Six Black Crows and One Big Black Cat

Crow otherYesterday morning, Max and I went out for a walk and right away I heard the crows cawing, which sounds more like squawking when a bunch of them are going at it. Around here, this is almost a sure sign a hawk is nearby. (Crows have long been my friends. Once when I told my young daughter I was a member of the Crow Family, she didn’t believe me. That day, one flew over from the tree she and I had been observing; I extended my hand, and a feather drifted down, right into my palm. She thought that was pretty cool.) 

Anyway, I began looking for the beautiful hawk I had seen on our building last week, but saw nothing, not even the crows, who were still making a loud ruckus. Hmmm, I thought. Then, from across the waterway, I saw a group of crows, still calling, take to the air from the rooftop of an industrial building. They moved together into a tighter line and appeared to be flying toward me and Max. I counted them, swoop, swoop, swoop, as they flew over my head, swoop, swoop, swoop—six shiny black birds, one quite large–definitely drawing my attention.

I know to many Native Americans the crow symbolizes the magic at play in our world, and that crows always set a sentinel, who watches and warns. Even though six of them came to me, and I loved seeing them so up close, I was tired, feeling out of it, and didn’t consider that their appearance might be significant. Later that night I understood their message to be, “Be on guard. Something is stirring.” In the book Animal Speak, Ted Andrews says, “. . . [they] may be a reminder of what can happen if we are not watching for magic and creation every day.”

Max and I were out for our afternoon walk, and nearly at our path’s end. We passed the apartment where there lives a very large black cat, which I believe (due to its size) is a mix of one of those wild cats now commonly mated with house cats. Max has seen it before and they’ve had several stare-offs, but I’ve always managed to pull him away. (He really does hate cats. We got him at the pound at eleven months old, so I don’t know why.) We’re around the corner and Max is sniffing a tree, ready to leave yet another liquid reminder of himself, when I see the large black cat creeping up behind Max—stalking him! I’m thinking, Okay, something is wrong with this picture, because cats always run from him. He’s not huge, but he’s still 60 pounds. The cat keeps coming and Max still doesn’t know it’s behind him.

By this time I’ve made the mental leap that the cat intends to tangle with Max. It looks like a small black panther, which I looked up today in Animal Speak. Ted Andrews says, “Leopard varieties [of the black panther] do not attack from the front, they pounce from behind. They kill by biting the back of the neck.” Hmmm. I knew it was Max’s eyes and nose that were vulnerable to a predator this size, so I locked the retractable cord-leash so he couldn’t pull it out even more and began to slowly back up, thinking I would, without incident, pull him away from the cat who is now only a few feet behind him. This is where the crow-warning comes into play. I unknowingly step backwards off the curb, my right heel hits a concrete parking block and over I go, back and down, onto the asphalt parking lot. “Owww!” I yell. (I’ve always been a klutz but it’s made for some good comedy!)

black cat biggerMax looks up at me and then senses the cat. He turns and jerks on the leash, barking madly. The cat holds its ground, back arched, hissing. I sit up, complaining loudly, and begin hand-reeling the cord back toward me. I don’t even know how I got up (it’s not like I’m an athlete) but I did. I retracted the leash by walking toward Max, which is what I should have done in the first place had I been thinking, and pulled him away. I kept pulling until we were around the next corner and didn’t even look back to see what the cat did. I just wanted to get home. My back and elbow are bruised, my arm is scraped, my neck did a whiplash thing and my right knee twisted somehow. But, hey, Max’s eyes and nose are perfect. 🙂 I looked up cats, too, in Animal Speak. They symbolize magic, mystery and independence, a lot like the crows that warned me to be aware of my surroundings. Ahhh, Mother Nature’s teachers. Pay attention, Pam!

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