Mantra

Don’t you love nature programs on TV?   I sure do.  The things photographers are capable of today is simply stunning, such as the inside of a fig where a fig wasp was laying her eggs.  How do they get those shots?   But sometimes the subject is even more amazing.  I saw a program on animals that make tools. Chimps do, of course, but that wasn’t too surprising.  What was really surprising was a crow, which in getting grubs out of rotted logs used a twig that it carefully selected and  —  and this is the amazing part — fashioned a barb on the end so that when it was stuck into the grub it didn’t just pull back out, but held the grub which was pulled out of the log and became a tasty meal.  I can’t remember how it fashioned the barb;  I’d like to see it again.

I recalled the crow one evening when I was working late on something at St. Alban’s; something that involved photocopying, and, wouldn’t you just know it, there was a paper jam.  I was able to clear all the jams in the paper path except one, which was in a place that one had never been before or has been since – in the far right corner, way back.  I could not get my arm in far enough to grasp it and trying to dislodge it with a ruler didn’t work.  Something about the print job was urgent, and I felt I had to get it done then; perhaps it was for something early the next morning, vestry retreat or a class maybe.   And it was late; no chance of getting Toshiba out to fix it at that hour.  Then I remembered the crow;  and I kept looking.  And I noticed an easel with round telescoping legs, legs with rubber tips; and I pulled out two of the bottom sections and used them like giant chopsticks and grabbed that piece of paper.  It felt good.  Ever since, when I’m feeling stumped by a problem, my mantra is  “A crow could figure this out.”  “A crow could figure this out.”

Ron Hicks

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