Crows Need Hands

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings?
Not one of them is forgotten before god.

—Luke 12:6-7

And so, a brainshower has rained down, upon some Science Men.

And in it, these Science Men have determined that animals may be rapidly Evolving.

To which, those of us who daily, gaily, observe Earth beings of yesthe non-human variety, say: duh.

The world of cliff swallows, it was utterly changed.

When humans—so sad—insisted they must race about at mad speeds, on asphalt strips, in hurtling tons of metal.

Hurtling tons of metal, raced about at mad speeds, on asphalt strips—so sad—that kill swooping cliff swallows.

But, and but 30 years on, cliff swallows have Determined to Evolve. To become Completely Ready. For the Wrongness.

Fewer cliff swallows are being killed by moving vehicles because of evolution, suggests a study published online today in the journal Current Biology.

“These birds have been exposed to vehicles and roads for 30-plus years,” says Charles Brown, the study’s lead author. “During that time, they have evolved to avoid being killed by traffic. Evolution can happen very rapidly, and some animals can adapt to urban environments very rapidly.”

The decrease in road deaths is likely because these birds have shorter wingspans, making them more agile fliers, or they are learning to avoid vehicles, Brown says.

When still I occupied the back-of-beyond of Cherokee, one spring season some fresh and new and too-young-to-really-know cliff swallows tried, for a brief time, to mud-up a couple little nest-homes, there under the second-story eaves.

Until they understood that, there, it would be just too dry, too not-right, too incomplete, too failed, there, for them.

When, after several days, they understood this, they sailed away.

Leaving behind, once again, this, in me: ∞.

The way they fluttered and fussed and flew.

So alive . . . .

These in-the-news cliff-swallow Science Men, they have no idea how harrowing this nikkersonfield of study—rapidly advancing evolution in non-human Earth-dwellers—can really be.

For they are not me.

Me. Who must—day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute—witness the scarifying evolution of that once and future human extraterrestrial being: the young’un cat.

The complete annals of the young’un cat, they may be found here.

Of particular interest, to this piece, are those earlier entries in which it was observed that the young’un cat was evolving.

But all of that, that earlier evolving, is now as nothing. Because we are now talking about evolution unto Childhood’s End.

For a step-by-step photo essay of this Astonishing Evolutionary Story—for to See—travel across the “furthur.”

As has been many times reported in the annals of the young’un cat, he has, nearly from the beginning, Decided that it is He, who shall solely Decree, when it is officially Morning, and therefore the Hour when he shall be Let Out.

As these annals also disclose, rarely have we—he and I—agreed upon this Hour.

And because, like Henry II in The Lion In Winter, the young’un cat “will not be stopped,” he has, finally, in this March, and fed up to his gills with my obdurance and sloth, taken matters into his own paws.

And teeth.

And has gone where no cat has gone before.

Into the great wide open.

Of opening 110-year-old brass-latched casement windows.

The window in question he had opened three mornings, to my great fuzzing up-from-sleep puzzlement—how the shit did that thing get opened?—before he consented to show me how it is it was, by him, done.

When one morn I was eating my bagel breakfast. Scanning on this computer the news.

Moving first with his very strong monkey paw. Because he knows hands are supposed to open the window. Because he’s watched me. And he’s very smart. And he figures he can, and should, do, whatever it is, I might do.

This is the window I often let him in, after his morning jaunt. And sowindow hand he has figured, there must be a way, to let himself out, for that same morning jaunt.

But he soon figured out that the monkey paw, no matter how strong and adept, was simply not enough.

And so he employs his teeth.

And he knows exactly which way to pull, with these teeth.

There is no dithering around, with these teeth. No random pushing or pulling, this way and that. Nothing that any Science Man can say was a result of mere “chance,” or “accident,” or “experimenting.”


He knows exactly window teethwhat he’s doing.

The young’un cat.

He’s opening the window.

Just like me.

And that’s a strong mouth he has.

Because in a quick fluid determined movement he’s got the latch pushed nearly to the top.

And these things are stiff.

These 100-some-year-old latches.

Not easy to move, window moving up with teetheven with a human hand.

But he doesn’t need a human hand, the young’un cat.

Because he has his teeth. And his paw. And his will. And his brain.

As he nears the latch to the top, he employs again his monkey paw.

Because that is how he has learned that it is done.

With the hand.

As he nears completion, window nearly window teeth and handopen, he employs both teeth and hand.

He would have preferred to employ only the hand.

Like I do.

But, in some way—and this he knows—he is god-cursed.

The hand, for him, is not enough.

So he will, must needs, employ, as Spike Lee puts it, “any means necessary.”

For completion, he pushes the window open only window almost openwith his hand.

Because he is a human being.

Just like me.

And humans use only the hand.

There are a couple of crows who have taken to hanging around the Manor.

The other day one crow was sailing over the rarely-traveled asphalt, out front the Manor, patiently dropping an acorn, over and over, onto the tarmac.

I knew what s/he was doing.

And all I could think of was: Christ Jesus, why weren’t these people given hands?

Finally, after about the seventh drop, the acorn split.


At which time a second crow swooped down, here we areand serenely, divine-right, gobbled up the goodies from one half.

The first crow didn’t mind at all. Just placidly fed, without complaint, from the remaining half.


Because they’re hitched.

Like ye and me.


14 Responses to “Crows Need Hands”

  1. 1 bluenred March 27, 2013 at 5:55 am

    I hesitated for some time before posting to this site the story of the young’un cat’s Evolution.

    Because I know the temptation, now, is to make him Famous. To have him, out there, Dancing With the Stars.

    But that is not what he wants. What I want.

    For we have our world. He and I. And it is more than enough. Than we can ever know. And we want to be left alone in it. Free human beings. Alive on this earth.

  2. 2 bluenred March 27, 2013 at 6:33 am

    And the Jesuits and the Kabbalists will tell you that upon the Fall, the animals too suffered. But that upon the restoration of the vessel, all will be healed. The crows shall have hands. And the humans shall have wings.

  3. 4 mieprowan March 27, 2013 at 10:12 am

    That’s a great story. When I was young we had a Siamese cat who figured out how to unlatch the door by jumping on the latch and hanging on it until the door swung open, but this is much more complex behavior.

    There is a story about Heinlein’s book “The Door Into Summer,” about how it was inspired by their cat, who would ask to be let out in the winter and then refuse to go out when the humans opened the door. “He wants the door into summer.”

    It’s going to be hard on turkey vultures should humans stop driving. Their chronological system will refer to this future time as After Roadkill.

    • 5 bluenred March 27, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      That’s a wonderful book. And it is perfectly reasonable for a cat to believe a human should produce a door into summer. For humans, cats know, are in charge of the weather.

  4. 6 sally March 27, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Ho– you knew you could get me with any tail (sic) about the young ‘un, BUT this one was spectacular. The pix incredible! Thank you for sharing. And I do not want young ‘un to be famous, nor you, nor me. Fame is too much of the other world. It is good to be left alone in one’s own place. What young ‘un did do is get me to write this bit and tell you how many times I read your blogs and how they bring me laughter and tears and I send you a REPLY in my head, but never from the keyboard. And oft times in my doddering old age, I feel left behind in your conversations with others that are above and beyond me. Meanwhile, know I love you and I miss you. Take care. Namaste. xoxox

    • 7 mieprowan March 27, 2013 at 11:27 am

      Wise words. There is much to be said for being low profile.

    • 8 bluenred March 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      I was just talking about you with somebody last night. Who said you are a hero, and should be recognized as such, by the community. I agree.

      I like it when you write me here. ; )

      And you, of all people, are never left behind.

  5. 9 mieprowan March 28, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    I told my mom about Young ‘un Cat and she noted that her recent rescue cat Zoe, who has to date invented Fetch, also tries to get into drawers and cabinets in which there are things she would like to have, but she’s just not strong enough. I can see increasingly that this is about leverage. It now becomes clear what those cohorts of cougars are up to. Sooner or later they will work out how to combine teamwork and physics.

    For a brief period I engaged in keeping scorpions in perforated plastic boxes. The scorpions were well below the scorpion-sized vents, but they promptly figured out how to climb up each other, making themselves into a scorpion-person sort of ladder, in order to have an Escape. I don’t know how they chose who got out, but he or she found me early the next morning on my pallet, walked right up to my dangling hand and tagged me.

    Scorpions are generally considered to be less intelligent than cats, though overall I tend to eschew such unsubstantiated opinions. I figure the cats find themselves with more entertaining things to do, such as convincing humans that we need them. But should they in some spare moment of boredom, condescend, in their feline grandeur, to contemplate scorpion group acrobatics, what then? A cat can learn to climb upon a human without using her claws. Have they really ever seriously considered climbing up each other in order to Achieve Goals? Time will tell.

  6. 11 Miep O'Brien March 29, 2013 at 12:18 am

    And there there is Eggplant.

    I have some affection for Eggplant. And you hate my Eggplant Friends whom I have cultivated at times. And fresh tomatoes.

    Are you a Hater of Vegetables? I’m a little vague on this.

    • 12 Miep O'Brien March 29, 2013 at 12:37 am

      I’d never actually watched that one. Well, damn. Call it Today, indeed!

      Really, that’s worth watching. Boy Howdy. I do miss Frank.

      • 13 Miep O'Brien March 29, 2013 at 12:46 am

        I love the way Frank is lurking around in the fringes of the footage, while the tracking is messed around with the other performers. Finding this piece just made my early morning ; )

    • 14 bluenred March 29, 2013 at 7:06 am

      I have no problem with sane vegetables.

      However, eggplant is not sane. It is not even a vegetable. And, as previously observed, when in lasagne, it commits a capital crime.

      If you give a fresh tomato to a raccoon, the beast will snarl and hurl it across the land. But, if you render the tomato into something like a pizza, the raccoon will then dine.

      Raccoons have inhabited the planet longer than humans. They are Smart.

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When I Worked

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