The raven is very much a family bird and very loyal. The mother raven will meticulously clean any mess out of the nest which her chicks have dropped and fly some distance to deposit it in order to keep the nest clean. The male bird is no absent parent either.
If you want to find out a great deal more about either, I urge you to read any of Bernd Heinrich’s wonderful books, particularly ‘Mind of a Raven’. The ‘Three Ravens’ poem I wrote for The Raven’s Call was partly inspired by Bernd Heinrich’s work but also by both the scavenger and trickster images of raven. Whatever you may feel about Corvus Corax, one thing is undeniable and that is that he or she is a born opportunist, forever looking, as pulp detective writers used to say – for the main chance.
At this time of year, any raven with any sense is not just looking for the main chance but for anything which happens to come into land or cross his path. Sometimes these juicy bits can turn into quite unexpected jewels.
The Raven’s Call first existed as a book dealing with loss and challenging change and using the natural cycle of the year to illustrate this. The book itself will shortly be reissued, but that’s only the beginning. I have been counting the little chicks which our nurturing mother has given birth to and kept the nest clear of and at this moment in time there are already five.
First in June last year the book inspired the storytelling programme that I produced, based on several of the stories in the book. 'From Raven’s Call to Swallows Flight' was first performed at Carrog Village Hall and included a unique opportunity to ask death questions. One of my favourites of these came from someone who was clearly a Terry Pratchett fan, because it was ‘How’s Susan?’
In September came the news that the overall premise would be used again in two further book collaborations with Slippery Jacks Press in the form of ‘Swallow Tales’(for junior/primary) and ‘Shape-shifters’, (Secondary)
The end of November gave birth to probably the book’s most important chick yet with the setting up of a workshop for Powys Mental Health Service staff and volunteers using the cycle of the year/cycle of recovery, used in the book. This work is on-going.
Next week I visit Welshpool High School to talk to staff about the school’s involvement in ‘Shape-shifter’ and particularly in helping me to devise a workshops section for the book. There is also talk of similar work with Young Carers later on in the year,(two of the stories in the book concern a young carer) around the stories and themes.
So like both the meticulous mother and the risk taking father I can only watch in satisfaction while our chicks fledge and I wait in anticipation to see what delights they can bring back with from their travels in this world and beyond.