My husband, Peter, decided to make friends with a raven.
We have a lot of ravens around our house. Ravens are smart birds, and Peter did some research on them. They mate for life and can live to be 17 years old in the wild. They learn to recognize people and will grow less afraid once they know someone. So Peter decided he was going to leave small treats on the birdbath every day and let a raven couple get to know him.
About the same time as Peter hatched his plan, we decided to replace one of our two pub chairs. But instead of setting it on the curb, where it would have vanished like magic within 24 hours, Peter parked the old chair in front of the living room window and starting taking his morning coffee there, watching for ravens.
“That chair can’t stay there forever, you know,” I reminded him.
“Uh huh,” Peter said, ignoring me.
First, he put out some noodles I had left over from making lasagna. A very large raven showed up and started eating lasagna. Peter was excited.
“Look at that big boy!” Peter exclaimed, and the bird was named Big Boy from then on.
Big Boy ate a lot of noodles over the next few days, but no Mrs. Big Boy showed up. Peter began to speculate that Big Boy was a widower.
“I think he’s all alone,” Peter declared.
“Maybe his wife just doesn’t like lasagna,” I argued.
Peter shook his head and kept watching.
No Mrs. Big Boy arrived, and Big Boy lost interest in the noodles once they dried up.
“Too hard on his teeth,” Peter said.
“Ravens don’t have teeth!” I protested, unnecessarily.
Then Peter started putting out tortillas. A much smaller pair of ravens showed up and ate a few. Peter dubbed them The Newlyweds. But still no Mrs. Big Boy appeared. Big Boy started burying tortillas in the lawn.
“I don’t think he likes tortillas,” Peter decided from the pub chair.
By now, my husband was spending a lot of time sitting in the living room staring out the window, waiting for his raven experiment to pan out. I was beginning to wonder whether we ever would be rid of the old pub chair.
I walked into the kitchen one afternoon and saw Peter frying three eggs.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m frying eggs for Big Boy.”
Big Boy loved eggs, as it turned out, and frying eggs for Big Boy became part of Peter’s routine. Big Boy showed up and ate his eggs, but he always came alone. He also liked salmon skin and leftover shortcake – but he did not like strawberries. He picked the strawberries out and lined them up on the edge of the birdbath to communicate his displeasure.
In the afternoon, Big Boy sits in the big pine tree overlooking the birdbath and makes loud, deep-throated noises. He probably has been doing that for years, but now we know it’s Big Boy.
Peter recognizes Big Boy when he soars high overhead in the warm evening breeze. It is easy to tell it’s Big Boy because, in a world of two-by-two ravens, Big Boy always is alone.
Peter is older than me by 10 years, and the actuary tables say that I will end up alone. But actuary tables lie all the time. Peter watches that big, solitary bird in the sky, and I know he feels for him, flying all by himself.
“There’s Big Boy!” Peter says, watching the sky. Then he fries another egg.
• Carrie Classon recently released a memoir, “Blue Yarn: A Memoir About Loss, Letting Go, & What Happens Next.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.