115. “Hello” Barney

115.  “Hello” Barney

One spring day I rode my sister’s bike a half-mile down the highway to the hunting and fishing shop.  I met a kid there I didn’t know who had found a young crow that had apparently fallen out of the nest and been abandoned.  The kid had clipped the crow’s wings so he couldn’t fly, and tied a string to his leg so he couldn’t get out of his bicycle basket.

The crow was a forlorn sight, with wings drooping and head hanging down.  When the kid said his dad was going to help him slit the crow’s tongue so it could learn to talk, I knew he was really ignorant and had no feelings for the bird.

I traded my old baseball glove for the crow and took him home to show Mom.  I knew what she would say, we’d keep him until his wing feathers grew out, and then let him go.  I also knew that Mom would work her special magic with creatures to nurse the crow back to health, and temporarily at least, I had a pet crow!  I named him Barney.

I must admit, I was surprised when Mom fixed a nest of clean rags for Barney on top of the old refrigerator in the back room in the house.  The room was a small unheated workroom that housed laundry tubs, workbench, pantry shelves, and the old refrigerator.  Barney perked up right away with his high “command” position, good chicken feed, and lots of tender loving petting.  He must have felt safe because he didn’t try to get away or leave his nest.

Mom confirmed that slitting a crow’s tongue was a cruel myth, and wouldn’t make any difference.  In fact, after I said, “Hello” to Barney a few dozen times, he clearly answered, “Hello.”  When my sister tossed a little red rubber ball at Barney, he caught it in his beak!  He dipped his head, and flipped the ball back toward us.  It didn’t go very far, but a crow, playing catch?  Amazing!  Imagine that!

After Barney was better, I took him outside and we ran together up and down the driveway.  His feathers had grown out, but I didn’t know if he could fly or not.  He probably didn’t know either.  I gave him a little toss in the air and he spread his wings and coasted down, that’s all.  Then one day, we heard crows cawing in the tall maple trees by the side road beyond the orchard.  I tossed Barney up, and he flew away in their direction. “Well,” I said, “there he goes, I’ll never see him again!”  However, a short while later, Barney came flying through the orchard and glided down to land at my feet.  He never flew away again.  I don’t know if the wild crows rejected Barney, or if he didn’t recognize them as his relatives.

So Barney lived out his days as a pampered pet, always on the ground, and living in a cool spot on top of the refrigerator in the house.  I guess Barney never knew he was a crow.

BARNEY THE CROW

Barney didn’t know
That he was a crow.
He never perched in a tree.
He just walked with me.

Barney didn’t fly.
We all wondered why.
We all thought he would,
But didn’t know he could.

I tossed him way up high.
I thought that he would fly.
He circled once around,
As he floated to the ground.

“Barney! You’re absurd!
You really are a bird!”
I suppose if he could talk,
He’d say, “I’d rather walk.”

Barney learned to talk,
He didn’t make a squawk.
He really said, “Hello,”
Amazing for a crow!

He finally met a crow!
He flew up to say, “Hello”
Way high up in a tree,
And then flew back to me.

I guess the other crow
Didn’t know, “Hello.”
Barney came back to me
Where he preferred to be.

Barney and I had fun.
We’d walk and talk, and run.
He never lived in a tree;
He lived in the house with me.

Why didn’t he fly away?
He wanted to stay and play,
‘Cuz, Barney didn’t know,
That he really was a crow.

2 thoughts on “115. “Hello” Barney

  1. Lyn heinz

    I love your writing. Your mom was an amazing person, and that’s why you are, too!

  2. Sue Sauer

    What a delight! Hope you enjoyed a good long time with Barney – and he, with you. Pets of any kind surely enrich our lives. One of God’s many, rich blessings :).

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