Crow 2-26-15-5273Perhaps setting clocks ahead an hour signifies spring to some. But the birds have been responding to the longer days for weeks. In particular I was getting used to being able to leave the house in the light, but now that the clocks have gone forward an hour, I have to give up and go back to leaving lights on timers when I leave at 7:00 a.m. The indoor crowd thought I was insane this morning to be getting up so early.

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I will be crabby about the lost hour of sleep for a while.

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The crows have been doing fairly well, I think. They seemed to like the omelette.

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Friday I decided to see if they cared for organic bananas. I didn’t know there was a difference until one week I went to the store, there were no organic bananas for purchase, so I bought regular ones…and suffered with tasteless bananas all week. Next time there are no organic bananas I will wait.

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Okay, so they’re not Fruit Crows. Anyway the crows were not impressed by the banana. If anything they felt compelled to eat some of their peanuts on the spot, I suppose to make sure the presence of the banana slices had not altered anything.

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As much as my thoughts seem concerned with feeding crows I have been looking for nostalgia or craving catharsis or something like that. I stumbled across a stunning video of Hélène Grimaud playing the Ravel Piano Concerto in G and lavished a good cry over the Adagio which has wormed its way into becoming my favorite piece of music the past few years. Then reading a review of Bettyville by George Hodgman in the New York Times brought tears to my eyes. I think it’s all a pent up desire to get out and experience something more than cold, hard, stupid days.

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But going back to feeding crows, anyone who has not yet seen this story about a young girl who feeds crows and receives gifts from them should check it out. I was originally made aware of it by my friend Lesa and have since seen it cropping up all over the place. My crows haven’t heard about it though: as far as I know they haven’t brought me gifts. That could be due to the fact that I feed them in a public space and they know how efficient the maintenance people are about considering anything trash. But I like to think the bond I share with them is enough of a gift. Just the fact that they recognize me and announce my presence to each other before they fly in swooping gently overhead is enough.

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So now, as if on cue with the time change, we are in the midst of enough of a warm up to thaw all that messy snow away. We go from the temperatures of the last couple weeks being colder-than-normal to normal-and-warmer-than-normal.

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Crow w hot dogs 3-2-15-5397Time is probably running out to be feeding the crows their favorite food, hot dogs. But they can count on peanuts year-round.

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The little birds will be preoccupied soon and they won’t be looking for handouts anymore. But I’m not quite done feeding everyone just yet.

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Ravel’s “Jeux D’eau”

As I go through tapes looking for more examples of birds singing with music, I often wade through a lot of old material. Whole boxes exist of practice sessions devoted to a particular piece of music. Such has been with the Ravel, which took a long time to learn playing only an hour here and there on the weekend. Actually the Ravel isn’t all that old – I still have some of it in my fingers, but I refuse to play it anymore. I had to move on. At some point soon, it will be impossible to play, as is the Goldberg, and I will look back on it and wonder how I ever managed to get through it.

Learning the Ravel was a challenge. It probably would have helped had I been 30 years younger with better technique, but I did not let these failings discourage me. For some reason the birds seemed to tolerate my pain reading through it. My sight-reading is such that I never read “through” – rather, I had to figure out a section, memorize it, and move on to the next chunk: a building-block process. In any event, the birds didn’t find much to sing along with, except for the budgies whose vocalizations move as rapidly as Ravel’s notes, so perhaps they were less silenced by the tendency to quickly abandon affiliation with a key. Not atonal by any means, but still a little too modern for a bird with a set song to chime in.

The music was a gift from the same person who left me to the birds. His mother was a pianist, and she had never managed to complete the piece. From her notations on some of the obscure notes in the higher register, I know she didn’t exactly read through it either. Such careful, slow going is not without setbacks, however. Long after I thought I’d figured out the notes, at least, I heard someone play it on the radio, and discovered one critical chord was absolutely wrong! I was off one note, which changed the whole feel of the piece. I had to practice that out of my fingers and ears for a week or two.

After listening to a lot of false starts, surprised to find a I’d made it through the whole thing, so that’s why it’s here.

Also a surprise, the picture below. I thought I came back with no pictures yesterday from the clouds and wind, but this shot of a juvenile Bald Eagle turned out rather impressionistic.

Juvenile Bald Eagle, Hennepin-Hopper Wildlife Area