The birds have calmed down now. Just a few are still talking. Or so it seems. The days are getting longer so quickly now. And the complex morning symphony is more intense and earlier in the day. Can’t at all describe what was happening around 4:30.
The fox came back. Last time I saw the animal was before Easter. But yesterday he resurfaced, looking like a big orange pillow in a sunny patch. Then he moved to a different spot and stretched out to an impressive length. He seemed completely at peace. Just a few meters away from an oblivious man on a bench, poking wildly at his phone.
When I walked near Kenwood House on a grey morning last week, I suddenly felt a presence, someone watching me walk by. I slowed down and saw an entire discovery band of crows, slowly pulling food off the grass around me.
It was easy to spot the more fearful ones, the courageous one, the one who had seen it all. An older crow was keeping near the trees. I had entered their space, a bit like a bird landing on a breakfast table. I sat down on a bench and watched them move on. A close encounter.
Walked past the same spot a few days later and about 30 crows were congregated around an older human couple with their dogs. Clearly food was to be had here. The dogs looked apathic. The crows seemed to share one consciousness.
Walking out onto Hampstead Heath I imagine what it might have been like when someone just like me walked onto it, without knowing the name of the place, without knowing anything about the larger context of the world. Did they also feel something akin to the opening of their chest when stepping out from between the old trees and onto a rolling meadow?
Did they also marvel at the sounds and sights and the subtle movements of everything around them? Were they also experiencing the feeling of completing oneself without actually seemingly doing more than just walking?
So many poems were written about this. And especially many romantics seem to have paid attention to this. But what about those who were even earlier? How did they hear the birds and watch the fox and encounter the crows?
It feels like they might have seen them much more clearly? Were they hungrier for whatever this is and were able to see what we no longer do? Did much more come with a feeling of happiness?; the joy and excitement that emerge when entering a new place, a new chapter or falling in love?
It is not unusual to read about falling in love with a place. And the longing for a moment has been described ad nauseam. But it doesn’t mean that one cannot go out and seek out those feelings for oneself and repeatedly and with a carefully nurtured innocence. And yes, that’s an oximoron.
It is so difficult to imagine being innocent because that very thought is not. And just by using words, we do not give the psyche of a murder of crows justice.
But it does not mean that it is not worth trying to experience it; again and again.
Our minds seem to step out of the early fog of life and into those few moments when we feel like we might be aware and capable of an independent thought. Then they move on to the evening of life where memories wash over us and we grow harder shells, making it more difficult to truly see. All while trying to live life.
We were promised that once technology took away the burdens, we would be capable of being truly ourselves. That promise is still here and growing and it is obviously partially a lie we love to tell ourselves and to hear.
I have no answer and I have no advice. But I am so grateful that I have not yet lost the desire to want to be more aware of everything in every way and without prejudice. One could call it waking meditation or conscious dreaming or the experience of the moment. It is one of the many layers that make life worth living.
I wonder if the fox and the crows ever meet. But I guess that’s how fairy tales start, and that’s a completely different realm; one to be entered just a few imaginary doors down from here, I guess.