Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Visitor

It was a fine, fine morning, this first day of June---the month, in Remember's way of thinking, which held the most promise of all the months of the year.  All of nature was regaling in its beauty, and  Remember was outside enjoying the day, strolling among the herb beds, eyeing their progress and satisfied at their growth.  Goody Prymm, however, had chosen to stay indoors by the low-burning fire to stitch quietly, as she had been feeling tired lately, more so than usual, Remember thus leaving her to her peace.

Leaning down to brush her hand against the fragrant rosemary, Remember was jolted from her early summer revery by the very startling caw of a large nearby crow.  And very near he was!  There he sat on a low stone wall, then suddenly hopped down to the ground rather awkwardly, landing in a painful jolt.  Clearly he was ill or injured.  Remember walked slowly to the bird, her foot-tread soundless, talking low and sweetly as she approached.  When she got close enough to him, the bird crouched down, ultimately allowing Remember to carefully scoop him up.  Ever-so-gently she did so, and walked inside to Goody Prymm, the hurt creature in her arms.  Upon seeing Remember with the crow, Goody Prymm promptly put down her stitching and took the bird into her ancient hands and, cooing to it, she felt around his drooping left wing for possible broken bones.  Not feeling anything too untoward, she nevertheless suspected that there was some damage, a small wound showing itself on his wing.

It seems Remember was always happening upon animals...or perhaps it was the other way around.  Wild or domesticated, they were drawn to her and she to them.  It was a trait she and Goody Prymm shared, though Remember's gift was much more pronounced.  Except for Goody Prymm, Remember much preferred the company of animals to humans, so the arrival of this new visitor came as no surprise to Goody Prymm.   Imagination then instructed Remember to fetch some raw honey from the lean-to, as well as four strips of clean, old linen, one strip slightly dampened.  When the young girl had done as she was told, Goody Prymm handed her the bird, telling her to dab the honey directly on the wound, for it was a natural cleanser, and to take the damp strip of cloth and place it over the honeyed wound.  Over that, she was to wrap a dry strip tightly in an "x" around the wing, like so.  All the while, the crow remained amazingly subdued, trusting in the hands that held him, his black eyes blinking brightly at his healers.  Next they would wrap another cloth around the injured wing, this time not as tightly, and then secure the wing to the bird's body so as to stabilize it.

When it was done, they both sat back for a while in front of the low-burning fire, stroking the crow's shiny black-purple feathers, providing him comfort, and talked about crows.  Remember said her surrogate mother always held that they were symbols of death and ill omen, to which Goody Prymm quietly countered that, to the Indians, they were regarded as messengers and symbols of transformation.  After a pause, Remember reminded Imagination about the crow and the old Indian woman's dying.  Smiling softly, Goody Prymm added that all of life, including death, was continual transformation.  Was Remember, after all, she asked, the same girl she was when first they met in that lonely dark Ipswich cell all those months ago?  At this, Remember held the creature closer to her, placing him against her cheek and closing her eyes as she contemplated that dark time...and so grateful for how things had changed since then.

Goody Prymm got up to find an enclosure for him, one that would allow plenty of air and be close to the warmth of the fire.  After such an ordeal, he would need that warmth and quiet for healing.  She retrieved the perfect structure, or at least one that would do---a wattle box they had made to hold kindling.  It was deep enough and would hold their patient nicely.  On the bottom, she placed old cloth, and a wide and shallow clay bowl filled with water for him to drink and to clean his feathers when he was ready.  They would need to keep an eye on Smoke, though, to be sure!

That evening, after the day's adventure, Remember announced that she had decided to name the crow Nightfeather, to which the wise old woman responded that naming a creature that would eventually be set free was a dangerous that would prove painful to the heart.  Remember did not reply, but Goody Prymm knew her words were lost on her.  She would have to learn on her own.

And the night crept upon them softly, all things well for the time being.

***With a nod to Ryan Heavy Head's YouTube "How to Treat a Broken Bird Wing."
The photograph is public domain, the photographer unknown.

© 2017 Nancy Duncan


  1. one of my most favored bird-friends, almost always misunderstood... glad he 'happened' upon Remember, and how Goody Prymm will teach them both valuable lessons of healing & friendship ~

    1. It's interesting the ways different cultures view this bird. I've read that they are highly intelligent creatures, with a very sophisticated and complex language range. The crow keeps showing up in the GP series! :) I like how the Indians see animals as spirits to teach us things.

  2. Another sweet chapter. I have a few crow images around my house and they add so much. I love your closing line -- this is all we can ask at the end of the day, isn't it? "And the night crept upon them softly, all things well for the time being."

  3. Indeed it is all that we can ask...and be thankful. Thanks for checking in, Vicki Jo!