I watched the crow struggle to free his foot. He was high up in the eucalyptus tree, and he could not fly away. He was entangled in some kind of netting that was placed there to prevent golf balls from landing in the neighboring mushroom farm. Two enormous birds--I later discovered that they were Great Horned Owls--were flying at him, and the crow was screaming. I had never heard such a sound. It was the sound of suffering, of desperation, of impending death. The owls were ripping him apart with beaks and talons. I stared in horror as the crow continued screaming, trying to free himself with the last of his energy. Finally I walked away, leaving Ty to observe the spectacle. The screams of the crow turned raspy, breathy; then an ominous silence.
The death of the crow stayed with me for days. At night, as I was trying to fall asleep, I would hear the crow cry in pain, see the enormous wings of the owls as they circled their prey; the image of the frantic crow replayed itself again and again in my mind. We returned to the Olivas Adobe and the tree where the drama had played itself out, and was continuing to torment me. We were on a tour, a very pleasant tour, and all I could think about was my crow. I stood on the balcony overlooking the courtyard, contemplating the eucalyptus tree. The sadness I felt was reflected in the gray sky, the still air, and the scent of tired, damp dust. Everyone else was inside the adobe, and I was just about to join them, when a crow appeared; he was flying just above my head in the courtyard. He drifted in gentle circles, coasting close to me, allowing the breeze to lift him. I watched him with a sense of awe and peace: this was my crow, back to comfort me and remind me that his death was simply a passage to another life, another chance to float and dance on the currents of the ocean air. He stayed just long enough for me to understand this, and then he disappeared. The tears overflowed from behind my dark glasses, and then I felt no more pain.
The spirit of the crow had never died, nor suffered, nor vanished from the Earth. He was transformed and renewed, returned to give me the gift of his beauty, his life. Thank you for the sign. Faith should not require it, but my trembling heart thanks you all the same.