A murder of crows….or was that a murder of ravens? It has a great ring to it , hasn’t it? I wonder who came up with that descriptive collective. I suppose it’s lost in the swamps of time. It makes perfect poetic sense though. It’s hanging in my mind not unlike that September sultriness that has somehow sneaked up on us all almost unbeknownst as the coolness of Autumn is held at bay. A murder of crows ? So why am I thinking of murder and death in the sweetness of this particular moment?
I’m making sugar syrup for my six hives of honeybees. It takes just a little longer to do it this year. How did that happen within mere months? Six little multi-faceted cellular communities with their tongues hanging out for nectarous succulence.. What happened to my two Spring hives?They went forth and multiplied , didn’t they? ..and now the hungry wee beggars have to be fed to the power of six in readiness for the cold of the coming winter. You’d never believe the winter would ever dare to come back just by looking out at the bright light turning the garden back into summer. The clues are there of course . There’s the odd curling leaf , browning slowly in the sunshine. There’s that curious wavery light in the evenings ..and that huge orange sun going down yesterday…was that caused by pollution? it looked like a fabulous jewel anyway. There’s not much forage for the bees now .The fuschia bushes in the garden are beginning to look a little ragged .It’s hardly surprising as the honeybees are tearing into them with great abandon , shredding petals in their greed; returning to the hives like little bakers, snowy with white pollen all over their floury wings.They enter the hives like frosted ghosts..if the guards recognise them …
I know where the murderous crows came from now …..Of course…..,Ian Paisley died today .
It’s all over the radio.I associate the crows with funerals.Especially funerals coming from the cathedral. The Dead Bell clonging through the branches of the surrounding trees and the ravens and crows bawling their Tom Waits’s dedications and rasping invocations to the sky.
The last time I saw Ian Paisley in the flesh was over forty years ago . It was black and white television days. We hadn’t got colour then .It didn’t matter. He was a dark figure , his slicked black brilliantined hair and gothic rainiment like a southern- gothic preacher from some old Robert Mitchum film .He was raven-black then too .We were all black and white on the television screens when he stopped the Civil Rights march from marching and the town had to be blocked off..He was all noise and bluster and a certain thuggish violence hung around him and his followers. That in itself was frightening. Never mind the violence and paranoia that his words and speeches unleashed and channelled back then. .Of course , the newspapers will now tell us all that he thought it was all a great “geg”. …a hoarse dark joke for himself and his hickory followers waving their blackthorn sticks ….a “hickory of followers” then….not quite as murderous as crows . ….
He’ll be redeemed in death , no doubt.A s he returns to good mother earth after his near nine decades of hollering and the ground cools for the winter ; the honeybees will gather in the warmth of the hive and continue their billion year adventure.
I’ll go down and talk to them and tell them of his death later in the evening when most of them are home . That’s what beekeepers do , you know .The bees always want to hear about a new death.
Somebody has to tell them about this.