November 11, 2010


After a long day of classes and meetings, I walked into the chilly air and onto our quad. The first week after we reset the clocks, change in light startles me. The sun was already smudging the horizon. The clouds had rolled back enough to allow the golden light we get just before the campus falls into dark shadows.

As I stared up at the evening sky, I could see birds, hundreds of black wings, all flying in the same direction. They appeared over the top of one building, moving in unison, swooping first left, then right, then left, curving and rippling, their dark wings catching just enough of the evening glitter that they looked almost like fish, with shiny gills rather than feathers.

I noticed a student, young with a blond ponytail, staring up at the birds. “Aren’t they cool?” I said to her. She nodded, and stopped walking. We looked up at the dance of feathers, the wave of birds.

A biology professor and his grad student, deep in conversation, came walking down the path — and almost bumped into us.

“Look up,” I said. They stopped and stared.

“Crows,” said Biology Professor.

“They’re considered nuisances,” said Grad Student.

We watched as the wings went smoothly past, the dark silhouettes moving through the last golden light of the day.

“But they’re so beautiful,” said Ponytail Undergrad.

Biology Professor smiled. Grad Student grinned. We looked back at the sky. The last flock of birds moved over our heads then disappeared over the brick building. Without another word, we all began walking again, moving in separate paths, me to my car and home.


Cindy said...


rosmar said...

Lovely. Thank you.

Magpie said...

The nuisance factor is probably why they get the collective noun of murder. A murder of crows.

But, I'm with you. They're cool.

S. Spooner said...

Ten years after living in the Jenga tower by the University I still have visions of those birds and the evenings spent looking at gray sky, barren trees and seemingly hundreds of crows as they flew past. Still feels haunting
Great write-up, as usual.