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This day began very strangely, I woke in the early hours of the morning to the sound of a bell being struck at erratic intervals. Ding! Ding! Ding! A line from a John Donne poem popped into my head,”Send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”, I could hear the wind blowing hard through the leaves of the coconut tree outside and the room was unusually bright. Curious, I went to the window, lifted the blind and there in all her glory was the moon, no longer full but yet large and incandescent like a great orb of power. Eventually, tiptoeing back to bed, I snuggled under the covers sleeping fitfully, my head filled with strange voices, places and faces.
By the time I woke again it was 6:30, Odie, hearing me stirring, began whining to go for a walk, I quickly dressed and we set off out the gate at brisk pace. It was not yet completely light and the sky was grey with the promise of rain and as we rounded the corner near the road that cuts through the fields, I saw it, the shot I have been trying to get for months! A murder of crows, five of them, sitting on a telephone wire, silhouetted against a leaden sky and the moon almost full, hanging suspended above them…..and me…..awestruck with no camera! To go back to the house for the camera would ruin the moment and all I could do was mentally capture that glorious image on the light sensor of my brain, never to forget it.
The crows took pity on me and as if to compensate, they put on a show, each one in turn, flying directly above me, caw-cawing, dancing on the wind, wings outstretched, tips like black fingers caressing the sky, whirling, dipping and gliding, showing off before flying away over the trees, fields and wild sugar cane.
The movers come to pack up the house tomorrow and Odie’s new owner will collect him by the very latest on Friday, so today was probably our last walk together.
Crow show over, we set off into the Mauritian countryside buffeted about by the wind, Odie’s little ears flapping as he jogged along in front, me – jacket zipped, hands jammed into my pockets. We met no-one and all we could hear was the wind in the trees and the crows calling in the distance.
Once we had travelled some ways down the road, I lay down in the dust and became very still, gazing at the moon and listening to the air around us. That is when I felt it, an almost tangible feeling of the two of us, locked together in a tiny window of time, the small gap between an ending and a beginning, a pause in our lives, that space between the inhale and the exhale with no-one to witness this magical frozen moment except Odie and me and the crows. I love crows.
Well, I dreamt I saw you walking up a hillside in the snow, casting shadows on the winter sky as you stood there counting crows. One for sorrow, two for joy, three for girls and four for boys, five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret never to be told.