memories of the wild

I live in the suburbs. It’s very ordinary to me now, and it is the only thing my daughter has ever known.

But I grew up in the forest. Yes, a house with electricity, water and a road for us to drive on. It was even next to other houses. But across the street was the deep woods—the deep woods that didn’t have any houses in it.

This was Alaska after all, so they didn’t have to call it anything. It could just be the woods. Since we were on a road and therefore close to civilization, I think they did call it a forest preserve or some such.

We called it the woods. I spent time in the woods every day, so I knew a little bit about it. I knew how shallow my knowledge of it went. There was a lot more I knew I didn’t know.

When we drove to anchorage we crossed the rivers. In salmon spawning season the bald eagles would join the bears and eat the salmon that were dying in the water.  The eagles were impressive and rare.

But the ravens were not rare. They didn’t wait for salmon season. Now I think of them as huge. When I lived amoang them, they were just ravens. They were perched on the lightpoles in the grocery store parking lot, sometime speaking with their own caw or sometimes making eerie mimicking sounds.

They were smart and greedy. They’d find food and dive in. Or they might work together to get at what they wanted.

I’d seen the ravens on totem poles. It wasn’t until later that I learned to revere the sagas telling stories of the ravens and their wisdom.

It’s been a very long time since I lived close to ravens. 

I live in the suburbs.

Last week I saw a crow. Like a tiny raven, he hopped along the tame green lawn, poking at fallen tree branches—sticks—and keeping his eyes out for possibilities.

I wondered if he remembered his choices, and thought about his chances.

The suburbs have a thinner veneer of wild nature. But there is still a lot I don’t know.

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