Lessons of the Crow

So fellow travelers, when I returned home from my recent road trip a package greeted me which I enthusiastically tore open to find……


Yes, Indeed, this is a crow themed handmade potholder.

First of all it is handmade by gifted fabric artist Maria Wulf (you can see more of her wonderful work here)  I had just seen Maria at the event I was returning from.  Synchronicity.

I have a couple of Maria’s potholders, this one with Simon is perhaps my favorite.


Although a close second is the potholder with one of the barn cats in the apple tree which I gave to my daughter, who has always wished we could have another cat.  Yes I know a cat pot holder is not an adequate substitute for a cat, however a potholder is also not a known allergy trigger. Both she and my husband are allergic to cats.

When Maria posts new sets pf her potholders I tell myself  I have enough of them.  Then again can one ever have enough art? Especially art that is whimsical, colorful and unique?  Still, there are many artists whose work I hope to add to my growing CGBF Gallery. So I try to pace my purchases.

However when she posted the crow potholders there was not one second of hesitation at my end. I sent off a message pronto  to request one because crows hold  special significance to me.

Much like music, bird calls evoke powerful memories for me.  The raucous rasp of blue jays takes me right back to hot summer days weeding my grandfather’s tiny garden in the Bronx.  If I hear the chatter of magpies and high pitched cries of seagulls , I am sitting in the bamboo rocker on a porch in Hong Kong.  Loons laughing take me lakeside in the Adirondacks.

Crows remind me of Tokyo.  They filled the trees that lined the Tokugawa Compound residental area in Meijiro where my parents lived in the late 70’s.  Every morning their harsh cacophony would wake people before sunrise. Anytime someone emerged from a house the crows found it necessary to comment.  They would taunt dogs who ran barking from tree to tree. They taunted cats too, but most felines simply continued their stoic sauntering along the top of garden walls apparently deaf to the insults being hurled from the tree tops.

We have several crows who hang around our yard.  I see them feasting on road kill, in fact we often say crows feasting on road kill is one of Central New York’s reliable signs of spring.  I hear them when I camp throughout all of New York’s wonderful State Parks.  Still, even though I have lived here for almost 40 years, it is Tokyo that comes to mind when I hear crows calling.

After I received Maria’s crow potholder, I sat with it and listened within to decipher what they say to me.  I hear many messages, about honoring ancestoral roots, flying straight and speaking one’s truth.  This correlates with the Native American totem of Crow who symbolizes the dark mysteries of creation and an ability to see through deception.

When we visited Tokyo in the spring of 2010 I noticed there seemed to be fewer crows than I remembered some twenty years ago.  Knowing  the government effort put towards creating and keeping a cleaner urban environment throughout Tokyo I don’t imagine it was a natural reduction in population.

However, the day my younger daughter and I made it out to Meijiro to walk the streets of Tokugawa Compound the crows were there, as raucous and vocal as ever.  I swear it sounded like they were hollering: ” Where have you been? Have you managed to make something of yourself? Is that YOUR kid?  You should feed her more .”


It was music to my ears as their yakking brought back such wonderful memories.  Tokyo had changed so much in the years since I last navigated it’s busy streets. Somehow this residential section had remained relatively untouched by change, transporting me back to my late teens. We walked along the streets, I showed her the house where her grandparents had lived; I told her how the crows would chatter every time we came and went, how her uncles called them “pterodactyls.”

I suspect the crows might not be in Meijiro when we return to Tokyo this August to bring that same daughter who is about to graduate from high school to attend college at TUJ.  The beautiful quiet streets and spacious houses of the Tokugawa Compound have been leveled to make way for modern rental housing. I don’t know if the huge trees remained and I doubt I will want to go back to find out. It was grand to be back on those streets for that one day, to recapture the time I spent there visiting my family when I was in college here in New York. Now, my youngest daughter will be leaving home, traveling the same distance in the other direction to go to college.  What strange synchronicity.

Besides, I have plenty of new locations on my list to explore, both in and beyond Tokyo. I know I will be looking for the crows, listening carefully because I want to hear what they have to say.


Editorial Postscript:  literally minutes after I completed and shared this entry  fellow CGBF member, Glenn Curtis posted a crow photo of extraordinary detail.  You can find it here along with  his timely thoughts about awareness  and the inner sanctuary of our hearts and minds.  They spoke to me with crow wisdom.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find your ready.

Deborah H Rahalski

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