“Wanna ball,” demanded a small metallic voice. I stopped peddling my bike to put a foot on the ground and look around. I was alone on the road, not even a car to be seen. It was near the end of summer in the early 80’s. My precious blue bike had been bought for me at a garage sale for twenty-five cents – the kind I had to peddle backwards to brake. All summer long, I rode my bike to the corner store, the swimming hole and anywhere else I wanted to go. On this particular dusty hot day, the kind signaling the approaching summer’s end, I was biking along Headquarters Road, a rural road lined with fields of yellowed grass circled in barbed wire fences.
On a wire nearby, perched a crow looking me in the eye. He fluffed up his glossy black feathers and tilted his head. “Wanna ball,” he stated, as though voicing a common crow need. I stared at him, which he took for encouragement to continue. “Wanna ball, wanna ball, wanna ball …”
It was getting late; as curious as the crow was, I needed to get home. So I balanced my bike and started to peddle away. The crow took flight, landing on the fence a short distance ahead of me, continuing to make the same demand. As I picked up speed, he just flew beside me in silence. The crow followed me all the way home (I guess he thought I was hiding a ball somewhere). Once we reached my house, I told my mom about the bird. She didn’t believe me, and I don’t blame her based on my overactive imagination, until the crow demanded a ball from her.
Thanks to G.Hanke for the crow picture (I didn’t have a camera back then)