We use that term to express the least distance between Point A and Point B, but Friday past as the crow flies took on a new meaning. As I pulled into the driveway after work there were three crows (or maybe ravens, hard to tell at that distance) airborne above the house. But their directional navigation was impeded by a most wicked wind. Seemed none of the trio could find a friendly thermal to glide on. We use the adage, “two steps forward and one step back” when we are making much less than forward progress. What terminology might we put for flight that takes on that aspect? As much as those birds were struggling to fly in a southward direction, they kept veering, pushed east, then west. The yard is full of little sticks. And I’m sure if I ventured deeper into the woods I’d find a downed tree or two. Yes, we’ve had some wicked windy days of late.
I got to wondering. Why “as the crow flies?” Crows never travel very long distances. They don’t migrate, only wheel through the sky in their chosen area, seeking food. So why not a goose? Or a robin? Or a hummingbird? Those hummers make mileage, don’t they? Well, I attempted some research and discovered the possible origin was from a country I’ve long wanted to pay a wee visit to — Scotland. There, the Crow Road is the most direct route, the straight line, and in road-building this means doing away with twisting, curvy roads since the straight ones are more economically maintained. Personally, I normally find straight paths much less interesting than those long and meandering ones that may lead to nowhere, but then I’m not employed in creating or maintaining roads of any kind, so what do I know. Scotsmen are always portrayed as being tight-fisted it seems. Whether there is any truth in that or not I can’t say but if the crow flies statement actually originated there in 1797… could be.
It also seems to be an allegorical statement alluding to death. Crows do feed on carrion. And in some cultures they are considered harbingers of death. Or at least of something “bad” about to happen. If they visit your home in the morning your death will be unpleasant indeed, an afternoon visit means it will be less so, and if they arrive filthy and bedraggled a long time of suffering is ahead for you. Pleasant eh?
This korner is usually full of happier thoughts, and even though dark movies are usually not my speed, I enjoyed “The Crow,” which came out some 25 years ago, starring the late Brandon Lee. It’s always jolted me that he died in much the same manner as his father, the late Bruce Lee — accidentally, and on set. Hmmm …
But oddly enough, there were parts of the movie I enjoyed (though it would never be one I’d watch again and again). Much hope and caring was found in the character of Sarah, the young girl who befriended Lee’s character, Eric Draven, murdered musician risen from the dead by none other than a crow who sat on his grave. Draven returned to the world, led by that crow, to avenge his own murder and that of his fiance. And what, one might ask, brought all of this crowness to my mind? Those three flying over my house on an idle Friday? Not really. Believe it or not, it’s been the weather. The weather is quite foul in “The Crow.” Much of it takes place in the hours of darkness and much of it takes place in endless downpours. We’ve had much less than sunny weather of late — but to quote from young Sarah — “It can’t rain all the time.” Sorry Sarah, but I’m not too sure about that. Anyone for ark building? Oi.
Footnote: And by the time this appears in print, the weatherman is predicting temps in the 80s. That’s more like it, thank you, though even 60s or 70s would be great. *Sigh.*