The year I first met them escapes me. Time has a way of robbing you of recollections. It’s inevitable really.
The first moment I stood across the river I stared straight up on the white bluff of Mount Dudley. My eyes were drawn to the shrill caw of the husband and wife American Ravens. They make a big racket. At first I found it genuinely annoying. But that would soon pass.
I was amazed at how they had ever so carefully placed their nest in branches poking out of the sheer face of the hill in order to make sure no predators could reach their chicks. Ravens are VERY protective of their young. They are terrific parents. I’ve seen them viciously fight off hawks and vultures that are twice their size when they unluckily venture to close to the Raven’s nest. The outsiders can’t fly off quickly enough from the no fly zone. They don’t really like getting dive bombed by a quick and agile determined Raven. It’s really something to see. It always make me wonder why some parents aren’t this attached to their youngsters, but that’s a story for another time.
After the adult Ravens feed their cackling chicks and they get big enough, the chicks finally take flight. It is a sight to behold. The family flies together for days, performing aeronautical feats the likes few have ever seen. They are graceful daredevils riding the waves of wind, diving, climbing, and making hairpin turns at a moments notice. It really is fun and awe inspiring to watch.
But unlike helicopter parents, they know when their offspring need to leave their territory and go off to find one of their own. No, they don’t bribe people to get their chicks into Harvard, Yale, USC, or UCLA. That’s not the way these parents roll. They do their job – very well, and let their offspring go forth and prosper. Sink or swim. Nature can be cruel but also rewarding. Nature plays no favorites.
I really don’t remember how many seasons of new Ravens I have seen born. Probably more that I care to admit. And the Ravens mate for life. They never change partners. Another trait humans might want to sit up and take notice of. But the years have flown just as fast as the Ravens gracefully glide across the sky. I’ve gotten older. I never want to admit it, but I have. Life has had it’s ups and downs and ins and outs, but the one thing that remains constant are my Ravens. They always come back every year at the very same time. Like clockwork. It’s amazing how they do that. They have offspring at the same time every year as well. And they always entertain me and astound me with their antics.
It’s nice to have a constant. It’s nice to know that whatever life throws at you, the Ravens will still be there. I selfishly think they return and repeat every year just for me. But deep down inside I know they don’t. I can’t recall how many seasons I’ve been watching my Ravens, but I know it’s been quite a few. And I take comfort in the fact that long after I’ve been called home the Ravens will carry on. I love that idea. And then, they will be somebody else’s Ravens. And they will probably forget how long they have been observing them. Because no matter what life throws at the next person they will know the one constant they can count on is watching and dreaming of what it’s like to be so free. Free to spread your wings and fly into tomorrow. I find that comforting. Don’t you?