My father has cultivated some wonderful friendships in his adopted hometown of Rockport, Massachusetts, but one group of friends stands out for their devotion, constancy and punctuality.
He gets up every morning at dawn and opens the kitchen blinds to the pink painterly light of the sun rising over Cape Ann.
He then sits down at the kitchen table with his bowl of cereal, and waits for his friends to arrive.
The first sails in alone to his usual perch on the utility pole across the street. He folds his shiny black wings into place, shivers with a final arrangement of feathers, and lets out one, piercing,“Caw!” A minute later, a second crow, and then a third, arrive in the tall tree at the edge of the woods.
A few minutes later, they drop down from the tree to perch on the wire that runs along the road. Sometimes, they bide their time by jumping straight up in to the wind, coming down to trade places on the wire in a game of leapfrog.
When he feels the time is right, my father sticks his head out the door and lets out a series of caws to summon the final member of the breakfast club.
The triumvirate becomes a quartet when the largest of the four crows lands in the yard across the street.
Once assembled, my father steps on to the porch and tosses out the leavings of last night’s bread board.
The lead crow barely hesitates before gliding down to gather up four or five pieces of bread in his beak. He never eats in my parents’ yard, but hops next door with his bounty. Finally, the leapfroggers on the wire, and the large latecomer swoop in to glean the rest.
My father watches the crows’ daily routine with great satisfaction, until the bread is gone and the crows depart, perhaps to Halibut Point for a fish course, or to Pigeon Cove for lobster.
Sometimes, as they depart for the day, they call out one last time. This always makes my father smile as he steps back into the kitchen, and closes the sliding glass door.