July 17, 2014

Crows, pistachios, and banjos

Went for a bike ride this morning. A short ride due to time constraints, along the C&O closer to the city than I normally ride, beginning at mile 23 and heading down to Great Falls, just 15 miles from Georgetown.  Pulled up for a break at Great Falls under a shady tree next to a paddock of sorts built for the mules that pull canal boats for tourists on the weekends-- Just a small area bound by a wooden fence on three sides with a gate enclosing the fourth, with a bench next to it for the mule handlers.  Nice spot on a weekday to sit and eat pistachios and watch geese and tourists wandering along the canal between the parking lot and the tavern-turned-museum & visitors center. 

After a while, I noticed a lone crow swooping and floating back and forth over both tourists and geese. It turned and headed in my direction and I figured it'd either fly past towards the river behind me or up into the tree above me.  Instead, it came straight at me, apparently only realizing about five feet away that I was there, at which point it suddenly swerved up and over me. I swung around on the bench expecting to see it disappear into the trees along the river but, nope, there it was, perched on the gate of the mule paddock behind me.  It was obviously fairly well acclimated to people and probably a heck of a thief and beggar, judging from the way it sat and stared and softly squawked at me.  So I unshelled a pistachio and quietly reached up from the bench to set it on top of the fencepost at the corner of the paddock.  The crow sat there looking from me to the fencepost and muttering to itself for about half a minute, then walked tentatively along the railing, hopped up to the post, and snatched the nut.  A quick swoop back to its spot on the railing.  It tried to swallow the pistachio, but apparently decided it was too big, so it tucked it between its feet and pecked out little bits to nibble on until it was small enough to swallow the rest.  

I unshelled another and placed it on top of the fencepost. This time the hesitation and squawky muttering lasted longer, so I stood up and, quietly asking the crow if it didn't like the salt'n'pepper flavor of the nuts, moved the pistachio to another fencepost along the middle of the rail farther away from the bench.  After a few moments, it smoothly swooped to the opposite end of the railing and tentatively walked its way up to the middle fencepost and hopped up.  It picked up the nut and held it for a moment, then set it back down and hopped down from the fence to the ground inside the paddock, where it found another nut I'd apparently accidentally tossed over my shoulder with empty shells.  The crow took a few nibbles and then began picking through the grass for other fare.  When nothing else turned up, it opened its wings and took off, this time heading off over the river, then swerving back past the paddock and across the canal to perch on the chimney of the old tavern/visitors center.  Definitely had to have been that salt'n'pepper flavor that turned it off from the pistachios.  Made me wish I'd just gotten plain ones.

Ended up the day at the Baltimore Museum of Industry to see Dom Flemons take part in "Banjos on the Waterfront", an outdoor concert in conjunction with their exhibit "Making Music: The Banjo in Baltimore and Beyond".  I've driven past the BMI many times, even ridden my bike past, but never stopped in.  Definitely need to go back again when the full museum is open-- The banjo exhibit was small but terrific and the few industrial displays I could see beyond it looked really fascinating.  And I have to thank my friends at Wax-O-Holics for turning me onto Dom.  Formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the man's a great musician and a very engaging performer.  See for yourself--





And ain't this somethin', Dom with Pokey LaFarge--





1 comment:

lostgander said...

Cool experience with that crow!

And I was thinking of going to that banjo show but didn't quite make it. I assume it was a good one? Still need to swing by and check out the exhibit.