Tuesday, March 20, 2018


At the entry to a valley I have wandered in over the years is a wooded area full of life and noise and wonder. 
It was here I first met Raven. 
Such a large bird of glistening black with so irritating a voice. 
Having returned there so many times, this Raven and I seemed to develop a connection of sorts, that went from simple awareness to something very much more.
Every time I went back was usually for a different reason, some to just walk, many to hike further, even more as the approach to a mountain then chosen to climb. 
Raven always seemed to be there, watching and waiting. 
In the early years, Raven stayed up in the trees, and let me know I was not likely welcome with that loud call, the fluffing up, and the spreading of wings. During later times though it appeared we were becoming a bit more used to each other and I would even call back on occasion in fun. To my surprise, Raven would then pause and give me the most inquisitive look as if I had said something of some meaning.
Those last years Raven actually came closer when I called back, flying over, landing near, hopping back and forth, all the while keeping those clear, sharp, curious eyes upon me. I am not sure when exactly our conversations started, but I think they began when I was returning from an unsuccessful summit attempt one year. I was upset by my route finding and less than optimal fitness that season. Raven probably heard me mumbling to myself as I neared and cawed out more loudly than ever before, "I know, I know", I said out loud in reply, and then took Raven's response to me as one of laughter over my overreactions and a reminder not to take such things so seriously. After then landing closely nearby, I looked over at Raven and that bird simply sat there, calmly and more quietly than I ever remembered, and just stared at me for the longest time. 
I couldn't help but just laugh out loud. 
Over the seasons Raven and I continued to converse about many things. Our chats became more personal as we allowed each other to get physically closer and I believe trustingly, more emotionally closer too. That loud brash voice so bothersome in its call, and yet so comforting in its messages. 
Our talks went on for over a decade and in that time I think we began to know the other better. 
We were more able to understand each of our worlds, and very much enjoyed a connection out there.
On each visit, Raven would hop about, clacking that dark bill, kind of whistle occasionally, peck at my pack, and remind me with a shrill screech that I wasn't paying attention to the moment. "I know, I know...", I would say yet again and again; and then laugh in response along with Raven's intelligent stares at me.
Raven always reminded me to remember the truly important things, always chided me when I was distracted, never allowed me to just wander past without pausing in those moments to say hello, and to share how each of our adventures were going.
Raven wasn't there that last season. 
I knew immediately something was amiss. 
It was too quiet and the silence lacked the welcome I had known there so many times before. 
I did later find two beautiful, long black feathers laying out there. Raven's last gift to me I am sure.
I like to think Raven's voice can still be heard out there though, all his kin seem to have taken up the call. 
To simply remind us to laugh and wonder, and to bring our attention back to those special moments that we mark our lives by.
I do miss you old friend. 
Your voice irritating and so very beloved. You were such a friendly cherished bother...   DSD

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