Scavengers

White raven

I’ve been having some major issues with this blog lately. I don’t know if I don’t care anymore, or if I just don’t care right now. I haven’t been motivated to write here. In an attempt to get myself back on track, I want to write about what inspires me to write. Along with that comes my first tribute to ravens and other scavenger birds. I love those little guys. They inspire me as much as anything else.

I’ve liked ravens for as long as I can remember. When I was little we had bird watching books, and we’d watch scrub jays, blue jays, chickadees, sparrows, swallows, owls, finches, and even hawks land on our deck. But I always had a soft spot for the magpies, crows, and, especially, the ravens.

We went on a lot of road trips when I was little. I never liked seeing roadkill, but when I had to see it I liked to see magpies or ravens eating it. So it didn’t seem like such a waste. It was food for the birds. Same with vultures. We lived in Vegas for a while, and I remember that we always saw vultures circling above whenever we visited Lake Mead. I liked them, too. When we went to the zoo in the mountains south of us, my favorite birds were the condors. Giant vultures. I like the scavengers.

Until I discovered William Blake and Lord Byron, “The Raven” was my favorite poem. It depicted the bird as grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous. Good words. I’ve always had a mental connection between ravens and autumn, winter, darkness, cold, and gloom. I think the poem helped fuel that. Even now, after studying birds of all kinds, I still feel like ravens and the other scavengers are kind of other-worldly. They exist to be creepy. I like creepy things, so that must be why I’ve always liked them so much.

I know that’s dumb. They aren’t other-worldly and they aren’t really creepy, either. They’re just birds. But when I picture vultures, I think of harpies and Dante’s Inferno. When I picture ravens, I think of dead grass, grey skies, and winter. When I picture magpies, I still think of roadkill. It’s all a little grim, but it feeds my imagination.

That’s why I like the scavengers so much. They give me ideas. They’re an inspiration. Seeing a few vultures circling in the sky could plant the idea for an entire story in my head if I was in the right state of mind at the time.

I’ve always loved autumn, night, full moons, Halloween, snow, wind, fog, and chill. Bleak brown hills and bare trees. The crackle of dried grass and leaves under my feet whenever I go for a walk. The heaviness of a grey, cloudy sky when it’s about to snow. Flocks of geese flying overhead, landing in the pond by my apartment, waddling across the streets. Dreary, overcast, cool days when the trees, grass, and bushes are all brown. I think it’s beautiful, as beautiful as blooming green spring and summer.

It sounds silly, but for all the stories I’ve written, the inspiration never came from something pretty or happy. It came from watching birds, wanting to travel, seeing a train roll by in a blizzard, watching fog roll over the foothills, thinking of vast empty dried up spaces. I live in a mountain state, and I’ve hiked up mountains and have seen beautiful vistas, green trees and grass and blue peaks for miles, but that has never inspired me as much as the gloomy things. I don’t know why.

As an example, the inspiration for the behemoth came from a combination of an obsession with Alaska, reading too much Slavic folklore, seeing a creepy forest in the Kung Fu Panda Wii game, and a dream about harpies. Maybe I just have a twisted imagination.

I like the word “carrion,” and because that’s what my scavenger pretties eat, I had to include it in the post. Carrion, carrion, carrion.

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