As a result, there seems to be a colourlessness to the days, like the visual volume is turned down or Ned Flanderized. There is nothing bold and no contrast out there.
I went for a bit of a drive Saturday and maybe due to all the white covering the city, the propensity and activities of the ravens really stood out to me.
I am fascinated by the birds. I did some research a while back and it turns out young ravens are some of the most curious creatures currently on Earth and will try anything once. They're very attracted to shiny objects. But something happens to a raven over the course of its life... Old ravens become neophobic and are terrified to try anything unusual.
I wonder what it is?
The slightly gusty Saturday was truly a day for the ravens.
Pulling through the Timmy's drive-thru, a furry bird with his share of scruffy feathers under his beak, had his neck tucked in to its body, huddled on the ground next to the spot where drivers picked up their food goods from the window. The raven looked as if it was studying how this process worked -- watching as people rolled up to the cashier and exchanged shiny things for pieces of food -- some of which he had probably tasted while picking through the contents of the dumpster behind the building. It bobbed up and down as each car left and new one took its place. He looked like he was really enjoying himself, like a little kid that takes to a game and won't let you stop because it gets such a kick out of it. The raven eyed up the driver. He opened his mouth, as if to mimic the drivers speech. I wanted to jump outside, scoop him up, sit him in the passenger seat and explain how the whole thing worked.
Anyways, I drove away and actively searched ravens out as I meandered through town.
Some of the black birds crow-hopped through parking lots, skipping from one spill in the snow to another to taste test. Others ransacked a bag of garbage beside the highway, like hyenas picking apart a long dead zebra.
I chuckled as every second street light or telephone pole or building corner or ledge held an inquisitive raven, just hanging out, watching scattering and scurrying humanity below, calmly from its detached viewpoint above. I imagined them scrawling observations on notepads, jotting down sketches of what was going on below them, learning something new about those goofy two-legged mammals that did all those crazy things.
I really admire the intelligence and humour of ravens -- the way they work together to solve problems, like breaking into dumpsters. I've watched them play tricks on people in winter. After a big snow fall, they will wait out on a particularly snowy ledge and when a person or another animal walks underneath unsuspecting, they will dump some snow down on them. I can swear a see a smile and a laugh after. I've seen ravens reek havoc on sled dogs, stealing their food after the handlers scoop food into their bowls. The dogs go crazy, tied to their small homes with ropes and the ravens hop away with their food locked in their beaks. Ravens stash golfballs at the golf course (it's not a myth -- I've seen it first hand.)
They can also mimic sounds. After a day full of sirens and ambulances and fire trucks and speeding tickets one downtown afternoon last week, I was walking down Range back to work and heard a raven -- perched on a rail in the parkade -- sounding out the siren ("boop" "boop"). It was so strange! There is a raven behind my parent's house in the summer that sounds like a frog.
Watching these birds, I started to believe that if I had to face off with a raven in a chess match, I would probably get creamed in four moves. And when I left to go get a bite from the pantry, his buddies would have pillaged it.
Maybe it's just me, but I feel like ravens are also becoming more brazen these days. I never remembered seeing a raven standing on a vehicle when I was a kid. Nowadays, they scratch their feet all over the roofs of cars or prop up on bumpers or hitches. And they don't run as quickly as they used to when you approach. That's not true. They do run, or hop away, now. But they used to fly. I think all their note-taking on lampposts is to blame.
I wondered what ravens ate before there was garbage. I wondered where ravens went to die.
Making my way downtown, I watched the ravens swoop into the air madly with updrafts of wind sweeping up the side of Northern Heights. They dipped and dived and then -- whoosh -- back up five stories or so when their wings opened to take in the air. They played. They chased each other like World War I planes dogfighting. I've always wanted to feel the exhilaration of that flight in the wind, as they do at the cliffs by Jackfish Lake or Back Bay in the summer time. It's always something I've wanted to know.
And after seeing all this adventure and resourcefulness and activity on such a bland looking afternoon, I suddenly became very jealous of the ravens, as I sat at a shiny red light in downtown Yellowknife, stuck to the ground in my 21 year old 4-Runner.
Shiny things were not attractive to the young man on Saturday afternoon in Raven Town.