By Marc Davis
Two-Fisted Birdwatcher is proud to post its first guest essay. This piece was written by Marc Davis, a novelist, journalist, artist and two-fisted observer of all things, including crows.
We often drove that 100-mile straightaway from Clovis to Rosewell in little more than an hour. There was nothing along the road – no houses, no telephone poles, hardly a tumble weed or a mesquite bush, no stoplights, and only a few intersections where the farm-to-market roads met the highway. The land was flat, barren, the color of sand. Even the Spanish name for it was harsh, with hard, ugly consonants: caliche.
I just gunned it, foot to the floor, straight ahead with no distractions. The road was hypnotic in its featureless, two-lane monotony, with seldom a car coming at us in the other direction. When a car did loom far down the road, the air between us shimmering like waves of heat off a charcoal grill, it was only for a few moments. Then the car flashed by with a rush of air, buffeting my car for an instant away from it like momentary turbulence in flight, and it was gone, way down the road far away in the rear view mirror.
Back about thirty years ago I was driving that road en route to El Paso when about half way toward Rosewell I saw a cluster of black spots looming on the road shoulder to my right. In a few seconds as I approached, drew alongside it, and passed, I saw it was a group of crows or ravens, pecking at what looked like a slice of pizza that some traveler must have thrown from the window.
What an amazing delicacy, they must’ve thought, what an astonishingly delicious meal. They must’ve told one another that they’ve never had anything like this in all their years of scavenging whatever food they could find in this desolate fraction of the world. If these birds can think, they must’ve thought it divine.
They spread the word to their family and friends, and those crows or ravens told others and they told others still, of the incredible delight of that strange, new, never-before-seen-or-tasted dish that gave those who ate it so much pleasure.
Wanting more of that indescribable gourmet delight, the birds gathered every day at the same location along the road, hoping, wanting, even praying in their aviary manner, that some traveler would toss another triangle of that heavenly food from one of those objects that sped by every so often. They waited. And waited. And to this day, three decades later, they may still be waiting. But their faith is unwavering.
None of that original group is now alive who tasted of that long-ago wonderment, and spread the news of its heavenly flavor. But the story of that miracle has come down, generation after generation, and now along that straightaway from Clovis to Roswell, the crows and ravens still congregate, awaiting a second helping, a second coming of that divine provender. People I know who have driven that stretch, have told me that they see these same spots of black at that point in the road where the pizza first appeared, as if out of nowhere. Knowing as I do, that human nature and animal nature are alike in so many respects, the birds will eventually tire of waiting. But not yet.