Our neighborhood has been invaded by a murder of crows. There are at least fifty of them swirling around a large evergreen in our neighbor's yard, cawing and squawking and announcing LOUDLY that the end of the world as they know it is apparently at hand. A cloud of darkness seems to hover around them. They are not peaceful neighbors at all. I first noticed them on Christmas Eve, and they are still there, raucously announcing to all and sundry that I and my dangerous dog were out walking before sunrise this morning.
I grew up in the country. A sudden caw from a crow will get your attention when you are out in the woods and make you look around for hidden predators. Warnings like this are supposed to have meaning and purpose, alerting you to avoidable dangers.
These city crows feel like a metaphor for our life right now, though. Their meaningless, repetitive, conflicting warnings echo through our windows, making us alert for unseen, unpredictable, and likely imaginary dangers. A dog on a leash is NOT a coyote. And living life as if every Golden Retriever is life-threatening is just plain silly.
The problem is that I can't tell the coyotes from the retrievers. When Babygirl is having a tough day, deciding which symptoms are killers and which are benign is, to say the least, stressful. And the other day, when she was crying and not feeling well and I made her leave the house, I cried from the time she left until I went to rescue her. Even though I turned out to be right, and all she had was PMS and nerves, the "I don't feel well" was a raucous warning that kept ringing in my head, black wings beating and beating and beating.
I don't know why a group of crows is referred to as a Murder and not a flock. Perhaps someone besides me noticed the disquieting feelings that develop when such a group is sounding a false alarm every few minutes - somewhat similar to the tension that develops when a smoke detector is randomly beeping for a new battery. It's murder living that way. You know that something is wrong, or is going to be wrong, or is going to go wrong.
And you begin to forget what 'right' feels like.