(photo by joecrowaz on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/joecrowaz/)
An auspice (Latin: auspicium from auspex) is literally “one who looks at birds, a diviner who reads omens from the observed flight of birds.” In ancient Rome, auspices would collect bird signs for augers to interpret. These days, we use the word to refer to a good omen.
I heard a crow hollering in my back yard. I’ve never seen a crow back there before, probably because of Plum, our cat, so I rushed out and sure enough there, perched awkwardly on top of an ornamental cypress, was a crow yelling at me.
And there was Plum, slinking around and yelling at the crow.
Plum is an expert huntress. She often brings us mice, rats, and birds, ands even managed to sink her teeth into a humming bird once, much to our dismay. Maybe the crow was scouting out a better meeting spot for our rendezvous, because the patch of lawn beside the telephone pole across the street where I usually leave the grub is a high-traffic area bustling with kids riding skateboards and dogs on leashes.
But clearly, the back yard will not do.
The crow squawked once more and flew away.
I had just picked up Gwyneth from school and was driving home when a bird plummeted out of nowhere and landed right in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes, leaned out the window, and said hello. She looked me right in the eye before she walked over to the sidewalk and hopped up on the curb.
What the hell was this? Did she recognize my car? (If so, that’s just mind-boggling, because I drive a silver sedan just like everybody else). I was reminded of the game called “trust” we used to play as a kid—one person closes their eyes and falls backward and the others catch her before she hits the floor. Was this crow showing me that I had earned her trust? Or maybe she was testing me? I tossed her a handful of peanuts from the bag I keep on the passenger seat for emergencies like this.
If you see a car brake, swerve, and emit a shower of peanuts, don’t worry, it might not be as crazy as it seems. Well, it might not.
The crows have disappeared. I have not seen them in days. I hear cawing in the distance but when I go out, I can’t find them.
What does it all mean?