Monday, August 16, 2010
Mystery dance and Mystere
Mid-August in Tennessee = heat, seed ticks, and dancing crows. There’s a peculiar little hopping dance that crows seem to do only in the last weeks of summer. I have no idea what prompts it. Marzluff and Angell have nothing to say on the matter. Google yielded no information, but in its mysterious and godlike way led me to this interesting passage from a really charming blog, Excuse My Solecism.
"Several months before Navidad, willing households will capture four to five wild crows and train them. The end result is a crow ballet that is both amusing and amazing. I remember first seeing The Dance when I was five; it was like something out of a cartoon. Each dance is different but they begin in the same way: the crows line up and peck the ground one, two, one two three times. They then walk around in a circle and alternate flapping in a sort of ornithological Mexican wave. Music is played and the crows dance the steps they have been taught. I had forgotten what it felt like to witness these birds. Every worry that plagues your mind is forgotten for those few minutes and you are free. The Dance is done up to the 23rd of December (El Salvador’s Christmas Eve) when the birds are set free. Some crows remain in the area for a few days after but eventually all fly away."
There's something a little troubling about capturing and training wild animals, but at least the birds are set free afterward. And who knows, maybe the crows enjoy it, gregarious creatures that they are. Their natural dancing certainly looks like fun. They gather in a loose circle and take turns hopping, wings held close to the body. Each crow will bounce 2 or 3 times and then pass it on, so to speak, to another bird. Not every bird in the circle hops. It's not clear to me how they decide whose turn it is, but I rarely see 2 hop at once. Perhaps I'm wrong that they only do this in the late summer/early fall, but I can't remember seeing it any other time of year. If any of you bird lovers out there can enlighten me on this, please do.
In honor of the crows and their dance that (I hope) promises cooler days to come, I'm giving away a small decant of Mystere, a great perfume by Rochas that has been discontinued. Mystere is the crow of perfumes--dark, a little harsh, and yet completely charming. Leave a comment or email me to be entered in the drawing, which is open through next Monday.
Photo by Sigurður Atlason from Wikimedia Commons. (No, these are not American crows, but they were too cute to resist.)