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Shelton Mason County Journal
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December 18, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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December 18, 2014

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Page A-24 - Mason County Journal - Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014 note: Columnist Mike Cal-winters. Then he added, "However, ff lag] n also writes short stories, which Worst comes to worst, make your way oc nal appear in the Mason Coun- to the meadow." He explained how he ty i and their mother had gone there the m angent winds escaping Arctic's | -confine lashed the Olympic Hoh ,L Forest with category force. Thundering cobalt-black clouds carried a wet cargo - dumping it over the rainforest with a rampaging fury. Our crow from Christmas past sat high in a Douglas fir with his beak thrust straight into the surging gusts of the early winter freeze. Deep within the flurry of white flakes, a bit of ice announced harsher By MIKE storms to come and Crow could CALLAGHAN understand that code. He leapt and glided full wing down to his nesting site. Bobbing his head and scissoring his tail feath~, he cackleda trumpeting sound of territerial ownership followed by a warning ofincreasin snow. His mate cast her eyes toward her partner, proud she had found such a strong pro- tector. She answered his call and added her own resound of affectionate caws toward him their brood. Most crow young- s~ 6~into the fol~t~e on their own as soon as possible.But some, like our two black-feathered friends, kept their fledglings close, not wanting to give up the love of their first family too quickly. told his fledglings of his in- thi:s~ pass of moonless treacherous. As fledgl felt they could fend for themselves. Crow dis d and warned with stories of previous year before and had been befriended by a jolly old man in a red suit. "He arrived right al r the shortest day," Crow said, "and left us a cache of food that helped us through the winter." The fledglings cackled at the idea of human help and prepared to take flight just as a shower of hail the size of river pebbles pummeled the forest. They all agreed there would be no searching for food until the storm passed. Huddled close, Crow put his body first against the wind as the clutch hunkered down into a nest that would need repair before the following spring's hatch. The next morning, Crow readied himself to search for food. He convinced his three fledglings to stay with their mother as he prepared to stretch him- self far into unfamiliar forests. After an hour's flight, a moment's absence of wind and the sudden smell of salt warned him to sit on a low limb. A gust, so powerful that it snapped fir tops and felled hundreds of Sitka spruce, swept down upon him. One Sitka crashed into the fir Crow was hiding in and he was thrown to the ground where he was covered with needles and nearly pierced by a widow-maker stabbing the ground. With struggle and effort, he broke himself free and hurriedly winged his way home. He found his own fir toppled, his nest destroyed and his family gone. He landed in what was left. The continued gusts of wind and recoil of limbs didn't distract him from his efforts to figure out what happened. Bits and pieces formed in his mind, but the full extent would remain a mystery, as he could not comprehend that the top 50 feet of their old growth could snap. Its fall broke the limb his family had been huddled on. In the flurry that followed, all four crows were snared in a gust as if caught in a net and flung easterly along the path of swirling winds. It carried them up over the Olympics, over Mount Washington and slammed them down into the wa- ters of Puget Sound. Half drowned and with strained wings, the family scur- ried shoreward over a sandy beach and sought protection against the punishing rain and waxing tide. After much thought, Crow flew in a widening circle trying to guess as to the direction nature carried his family. An unexpected cloud break allowed sun to flash across the forest, and its light reflected off a piece of silver ribbon - the silver ribbon he had given his new mate the year before. Crow swooped down, tucked the ribbon under his wing and flew east. Well into his search, Crow landed amongst a neighbming flock. The males were immediately suspicious of his intentions. It was a feeling he was used to, and he didn't let it bother him. As he told his story, the males calmed. The females let out chatter telling and retelling of the loss. There was sympa- thy, even offers to be his new mate. But Crow would not listen. He flew easterly again from flock to flock meeting similar responses. Discouraged, Crow sat on a limb for hours without moving, without eating. It was one day past the shortest day of the year, and he had planned on taking his family to the meadow. Foregoing that, all he desired now was to hear the fledglings' beaks and to feel their mothes warmth. BiN Casting down from a now starlit sky, Crow heard a sound, a sound of joy and hope echoing from words he didn't understand. Somewhere above him was that sled with the eight reindeer. Crow flew up, up into the dark, searching. He flew higher than he had ever flown be- fore. The currents of wind rising off the Puget Sound were strong and unruly, and he struggled to maintain control, but then in the twinkle of moon and reach of star, Crow saw the sled. He surged with excitement and put forth all his effort to reach the jolly old man. With a thud, Crow crashed onto the overstuffed bag in the seat next to his white-bearded friend. "Whoa!" the man exclaimed to the reindeer. They came to a halt, hovering there in the dark of space. "Crow, you surprised this old Santa, You're sure a long way from home." The Crow bobbed and weaved and hopped closer to the voice. "Where's your family?" Santa asked. Crow hung his head and cawed a sound lonelier than that of a loon, and he dropped the sliver of silver ribbon. "This looks serious," Santa said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a cookie, offering it to his black-winged friend. Crow refused. "Now, now, in tough times like these, youll need your energy." Still Crow would not eat. "Well," said Santa, putting the cookie back, "when I'm lost and looking, I al- ways like to sing. It seems to cheer me up, and when I'm cheered, I make better decisions." Santa began to sing, "Deck the halls with boughs of holly." Crow, hearing the words, bobbed his head ever so slightly. Then in rhythm to the melody, he cawed and his cawing began to vibrate with ....... energy. Hardly without the Crow noticing, Santa steered the sleigh down toward the salty waters of Puget Sound and leveled out at tree-top level. The sing- ing and jingle of bells caused birds to wake to the ruckus, and as they woke, most responded with irritable cackles. It wasn't until Santa had flown past the 12th flock that one caw grabbed Crow's attention. It was a quiet caw like the meow of a cat, and it was followed by three chirps. It was Crow's family! Santa slowed the sled to a stop and Crow flew down into the thick nestle see CROW, page A-28 Our Community Union! ..... 12-month term *APR=~ual Percentage Rate. O :fer valid o ~ at~ conditi~ only. Promotion expires December 3ii~ Not eli ~.%~ for skip-a-payment T~ Shelton Union, McCleary MASON COUNTY JOURNAL 2015 EVENTS CALENDAR (13 months) $999 Makes a great Christmas Gift! Available at the Journal office 227 W. Cota in ShelWn and select locations throughout Mason County Percentage of proceeds benefit: Community Lifeline of Mason County