They are gathering. I can hear them in the darkness and wonder why they are here so early. At first their cries slipped into my dreams, weaving their way into the gradual awakening. Eyes open, my conscience knows that it’s time. Time to face the day and my obligations.
The heavy drapes pulled wide as my eyes, I see the dawn, soft and orange, streaked with indigo and tendrils of mist from the lake. Shadow trees are reflected in the shimmering water.
My visitors are waiting.
Raiment as black as coal, they glisten in the light like black diamonds. As they stalk around on the grass, their eyes watch me, knowing what I will do. But I am waiting for their cousins. They arrive acrobatically displaying their talent. Hopping across the ground as they land, the sun shines on heads adorned with silver, then they gracefully fold their wings. Their echoing chacks add another contrast to the raucous caws of their larger brethren. All the feathers shine, preened to brilliance by beaks created for a varied diet.
Some would say that I was sick in the head for feeding this elegant corvid family, and some would shoot them as vermin, hanging their carcasses up as scarecrows. But the intelligence of my feathered friends captivates me, the supreme ones for me being the Jackdaws. So every morning they feast on my fruit and berry granola, and I try to understand them.
Is that mischief or secrets in their glances and nods?
They are considered the most intelligent of birds, having demonstrated self-awareness and tool making ability. Their total brain-to-body mass ratio is equal to that of the great apes, and of cetaceans like dolphins. Therefore, there could be more.
Are the black feathers symbolic of death and evil? A Black Knight with wings dreaming of taking centre stage in a world uprising? Ridiculous. Their other cousins are multi-adorned, in black and white, or pinkish-brown with blue flashes. They are precious gems of nature, even when screaming in the woods as the elusive Jays do. A simple cry to a mate or rival? A warning? Or those secrets? Will we learn what lies in their minds?
Perhaps the answer lies in the soil that nourishes us all, from birds to humans. Soil that can be as black as the jackal that is Anubis, the funerary deity of the Ancient Egyptians, but richer than the rarest gems. Black diamonds set in silver.
Is the secret in the silver, gleaming on the head or sparkling in the eyes? What are the Corvids seeking in the ground? Insects? Worms? Or the strange silver denizens of our humble gardens? Those silver armoured creatures like woodlice or sow bugs, the crustaceans that crawl in the darkness but do no harm.
But maybe in a world turned upside down, where dreams are nightmares or a chance to rebuild, the talent lies elsewhere. What happens if the silver adorned creatures in black armour and the feathered acrobats demonstrate their prowess? Food for thought and survival, maybe.
Instead I awake from my fantasies, knowing that reality rules. I am back in my wheelchair without the granola, and gazing out the office window at jackdaws hopping on the neighbours’ roof and wheeling in the sky towards Snowdon.