I came home yesterday shaky and excited, the stain of a cherry lime-ade spreading across my “We Get What We Deserve” t-shirt. I took the dowsing rods and my mom out into the back yard, way back to where we’d buried the dog. I showed her how to hold them. I showed her how it worked–how they crossed when I crossed the dog’s grave. I asked her if she wanted to try and of course she did. And she stepped on the dog’s grave and they crossed for her.
My mom has her degree in biology. She’s trained to think things through. She knows about the ideomotor phenomenon. She just looked at me and I said, “I know, right. It makes no sense.” She wandered around the yard a little more. No further crossing. You know it can’t be real, can’t really work, and yet, there you are.
And then a squabble of crows barked in a nearby tree and we looked up to see them harassing a hoot owl. A big one. A couple of mockingbirds were screaming at the owl, too, and a cardinal hopped from limb to limb nearby, as if eager to see a fight. The owl kept looking back at us as if to check to see whose side we were on.
My mom said, “Crows hate owls. Always have. I’m a friend of crows normally, but I don’t like to see them take after owls like this. In this situation, I’m always on the owl’s side.”
I felt the same, even though I knew I was just watching everyone who’d ever lost a relative to an owl letting the owl know how they felt about it.
We watched the argument for a good ten minutes and once the crows got bored, we went inside.
Two times I remember seeing birds fuck with predators.
A few years ago there were a lot of foxes in my neighborhood and they would brazenly lounge on folks’ lawns. One day I watched one hanging out across the street and a handful of magpies started advancing on it, yelling. Finally the fox stood up and backed off, leaving my neighbor’s yard to the magpies. The magpies run this town, I thought to myself.
Back in Downs our cat Orson had a juvenile starling in his teeth. Every other starling in the vicinity, which was a lot, starting yelling at once. Orson dropped the bird out of surprise and it flew away.