Thursday, June 22, 2017

a murder of ...?

Flying up the road in front of us this morning: four large crows.  At least, there were four, and there are four shadows, but I can only detect three fat shiny bodies here.

When I was very small, my mother taught me a whole lot of collective nouns - not just a gaggle of geese, or a murmuration of starlings or a parliament of rooks (apparently a parliament of owls in the US, which sounds as though someone was consonant-challenged when they heard about Chaucer's Parliament of Fowles).  I loved the sense of possessing useless, but specific arcane knowledge. That probably says something prophetic about my scholarly career ... So it came as something of a shock to read this article on the Audubon Society website, which is adamant about the preciousness and futility of using fanciful collective nouns.  Birds come in flocks, the author asserts, like sheep.  And that's that.  Anything else belongs to the realm of pub-quiz trivia.  Nonetheless, I truly like the sense of connection with generations past of country people that comes with knowing these terms.

On our way back, we came upon what I think was a murder victim (though probably not a crow victim - they are scavengers - there's been a very alert Cooper's Hawk around): a thin gleaming silver and pale green snake that must have foolishly been sunbathing in the road, and had a large hole pecked in it, with protruding entrails.  I respectfully took a couple of sticks and relocated it, despite its demise, so that it wouldn't be car-flattened.

No comments:

Post a Comment