Entering the Kingdom

By , July 1, 2011

If you’re reading Mary Oliver’s Twelve Moons as a lunar calendar with me this year, tonight is the new moon, the day to read Entering the Kingdom.

This is another of Oliver’s poems that speaks to me. We live in “the kingdom,” although ours is not a kingdom of crows, but of ravens.We have plenty of crows around here. The Northwestern crow is largely an intertidal bird in Southeast Alaska. We see gangs of them passing over the water off our beach. Occasionally they’ll spend some time on our rocks in a noisy group before moving on. They seem to live on Point Comfort, the tip of our small peninsula.

The ravens are more like crows on steroids, bigger, smarter, faster. They, as I’ve mentioned before, nest nearby, and claim all our lands as their own. At this time of year, they’re incredibly raucous. The young ones, almost as large as their parents, but with more delicate heads, thinner beaks, and often a white feather or two, seem to revel in the amount of noise they can make.

I remember when we were moving to Alaska, we spent the night in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Outside our hotel, we heard ravens calling. We went out to investigate, because Michelle insisted that it was not ravens, but some person trying to imitate a raven, and doing a poor job of it. Now we know, through long experience, that this coarse, uncultured, unrestrained, artless “Caw!” is the sound of a young raven, finding his voice, if you will.

Imagine, then, every single day these past weeks, beginning around 3:00 a.m. and lasting late into the night, long stretches of this noise, created by three or four youngsters, accompanied by the more reserved (and seemingly somewhat exasperated) calls of a parent. They seem to enjoy sitting in the trees above the garden, yelling lustily while Michelle tends the plants. More than once I’ve seen her glare at them and shout, “My garden, not yours!”

Border disputes between one kingdom and another appear to be ongoing . . . .

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