I keep expecting that I will get back to sewing any day, but the truth is that I am completely immersed in my dissertation. This is joyful both because it must get finished this year and because there is nothing so invigorating as well-loved work. I make a pot of tea and put on my “studytime classical” playlist (jazz is for reading, classical is for writing) and set to work. Lately, I have even been working into the evening, though I have also taken to reading novels at night. I just finished Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier–an unexpectedly profound meditation on the female condition. (Somebody else read this too, so we can talk about it.)
I have been tracking autumn on the Prospect Park hill, watching the Troy sign slowly emerge as the summer greenery recedes back into its winter den. I watch the leaves fall from the trees, scuttle across the rooftops and twirl in the air in quick little flurries. Maple seedpods helicopter past my window. Last week the wind picked up and by today most of the leaves were gone from the trees, though they lie in the streets and on the sidewalks in big tempting piles. Other people skirt them, but I trudge right through, kicking them up with my feet.
As the late afternoon sun turns the hill orange, hundreds of crows rise up and circle in the skies. Later they will roost in the trees and christen the cars below. Some people want to get rid of the Trojan crows for this reason, but I love them. When they suddenly swoop up in the late afternoon to whirl and jabber in the sky overhead, it takes my breath away. Death’s familiars, but not to be feared, just helping the day to its end.
In Western mythology, crows have long been seen as symbols of death, but in The Women’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, Barbara G. Walker writes that “Romans regarded the crow as a symbol of the future because it cries Cras, cras (Tomorrow, tomorrow).”
(All the black flecks in the sky are crows.)