Monday, August 30, 2010

A Co-operation of Thieves

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."


From The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe












Photo courtesy of Allen Russell




Early on a bitter morning in winter I sit in the window of a room high up in the Yellowknife Inn, coffee in hand, taking in the scene below. Stark and frigid, and the paleness of the low Arctic sun offers no comfort to the scene.

From a house down the road appears a person, huddled in a dark parka, bearing a bowl. From a kennel in the yard emerges a sled dog, large and furry. The bowl placed on the ground, the person returns inside. Dog begins breakfast.

Now from down the way emerge two large black ravens to land on the ground some little distance from dog. Dog eyes them warily, begins eating faster.

Does he know what is about to occur?

One raven approaches the bowl. Dog lunges to the end of a heavy chain. Raven lifts as a feather, carefully just out of dog’s reach.

Raven two dashes to the bowl, gulps a beak of food.

Dog lunges. Raven two lifts.

Raven one darts to the bowl, gulps a beak of food.

Dog lunges. Raven lifts.

Raven two dashes to the bowl.

The scenario continues. Ravens eat. Dog lunges.

The telephone rings. The meeting is beginning.

I wonder to this day if the final sharing of the food was equitable.


Allen Russell photographs what he knows best, "Life in the American West".

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