When crows (and books) come to life


Two years ago, in early November, I was walking North Beach, alongside the Lillooet River when I spied an egg-shaped pumice stone; it joined the collection of white rocks with which I was yet again filling my pockets.

The stone got me thinking of Mt Meager and the layers of detritus that must have spewed from it and the time that had passed and the features and vegetation that had formed since its last eruption.

It was a dreary day – one that made me appreciate a warm house to come home to. I had been powering through Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda to prepare for book club and the horrific images of torture and daily struggle to survive he depicted eddied through my thoughts like the river swirling beside me. The one symbol of comfort, beauty and hope for the young protagonist in this story was a crow with whom she developed a spiritual connection. This bond sustained her even after some boys killed the crow for she kept its dried but feathered body hanging near her and imagined herself soaring away from her miserable life just as the crow might have. So, perhaps it was the power of suggestion which caused me to see, mired in the sand at the riverbank, the shape of a bedraggled crow rendered in the root of a tree, tumbled by the rocks and soil. I wrestled my prize free, then staged a shot of the bird and the egg, all the while astonished to have found just what I had been reading about. What magic brought this fiction to life for me? Would I have seen a crow and an egg if I had been reading a different story? These are questions for which I have no certain answer.

The wooden crow and the pumice egg joined the rest of my found treasures back in my warm dry house where I enthusiastically shared them with my book club.


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