A few weeks ago, I asked participants of my nature journaling class to spend the week until our next meeting answering this question: Where is nature in your neighborhood?
Nature sits in the tall, tall popular across the street. It caws and cackles -- sometimes alone, but usually with a friend or two. It is sleek and covered with coal-black feathers that shine blue and purple in the sunlight.
For almost a month, have been trying to attract them to our front walk with a small pile of peanuts. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I was successful. I was sitting in the living room reading the Sunday paper, when I heard the familiar, guttral "caw! caw!" This time, it sounded as if it was right outside the front door. I peeked through the window, and sure enough, there was a crow sitting on the wire that's suspended over our parking strip.
The bird (He? She?) was eyeing the peanuts and calling to two friends who hopped onto the grassy strip. One joined the crow on the wire as a watcher -- only from ground level -- while the third slowly walked toward the cache.
He/She took one, dispatched the shell in a couple of seconds, tossed the nut meat into the back of its throat and the called out to the two companions. In a matter of minutes, all the peanuts were gone.
But alas, I did not see them again. I put out peanuts out waited to no avail. Saturday night it snowed, covering the walks and yard with about three inches of dense fluff. The neighbor was the first to get outside with shovel in hand, and he shoveled our walk. I figured the peanuts were relegated to one of the small piles along the concrete.
But I couldn't find them. Not one. And that's when I saw the footprints cutting across the parking strip. There was no mistaking that triangle-shaped footstep. My feathered friends -- one of them, at least -- had visited some time before dawn and made off with the bounty.
Late Sunday afternoon, I heard nature calling and cawing again from a towering box elder situated a few yards down the alley. I put out more peanuts.
And this morning, I am still waiting. They will come back. I just have to patient and vigilant. As Lyanda Lynn Haupt writes in "Crow Planet," we should wander our city as we do the forest: "ready to see." And I am.