Sunday, 12 September 2010

A Storytelling of Crows

I was just walking the dog around a big field nearby, where more crows were about than I've ever seen before. On the yellow stubble agains a sky where a storm might be brewing, I was reminded of Van Gogh's painting 'Wheatfield with crows', which has an ominous atmosphere. I've always been fond of crows, and their big brothers of the corvus familiy, the ravens, some of which I saw at the Tower of London yesterday. I was brought up with a superstition about magpies too, which was hardwired into me. It is supposedly bad luck to see a solitary magpie and not say 'Good morning Mr. Magpie, how's your wife today?' This was mainly something I got from my dad. It seems a magpie on its own could be the devil in disguize, or else that these birds are unlucky becaise they are the only crows that did not wear all black to Jesus' funeral! I tried to break out of this superstition lately and have been saying 'It's just a bird, whatever you've heard.' This was turning into an alternative superstition, however, and I managed to ignore the single magpie that I also saw on my travels just now.

I like the idea that the collective noun of crows is a 'murder' or a 'storytelling'. That adds to their gothic appeal. You also get a storytelling or an 'unkindness' of Ravens. I've experienced that. Magpies come in tidings, if you're lucky.

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