This week I are been mostly reading .. Damon Runyon.
Ravens are smart birds, clue-some, thoughtful, without a doubt birds of high intellect. It's well known in this burg that I favour Magpies, these characters being sociable as well as smart, and having more than enough brain to deal with the run of human traffic that comes their way, but Ravens is smarter still. Currawongs are plentiful, but don't have any more nous than a lizard, and not one which changes colour either, which is a neat trick if you can pull it off, but requires no more than good taste or good timing, a trait which ain't often seen in the same company.
Now most people will cite Owls as having the market cornered on thoughtful consideration in the avian academe, but this is in no way the facts, occupied mostly as they are in eating mice and coughing up the bones, which is a poor way to make up a lifetime's work and a disgusting diet. It seems to me that this and big eyes is no smarter than a mousetrap, with or without the cheese and the eternal question 'who?'. Eagles too is overrated, being mostly muscle and beak and a fast turn of speed on the drop. They may look grand in a 'proud and noble king of the skies' kind of way, but they don't display a capacity for cogitating beyond knowing to drop a turtle from forty feet to crack the pie.
No, it's Ravens that have the full thimble, the tight-packed noggin, the little grey cells full of lighting and fire. It's sometimes more than is strictly speaking useful, in point of fact, which example we'll consider later. But it's being unpopular that makes it so. Glossy blue-black, with an eye of pale blue and a ruffled shirtfront is very stylish, which suggests an appreciation of the importance of a professional appearance. But hangman's black upsets a lot of folk, being the implications of which tends to crowd out a natural sympathy. So being naturally feared for the associations of their attire, and loudly condemned by smaller fry in fear of egg-stealing and cradle-cracking, and generally looked askance at by the citizens, the Raven is given to contemplation of the cruel fate of being tarred and feathered, as it were, by notoriety before they even speak.
Ravens is such a noble animal that they for the most part accepts the bad moniker without much complaint, expecting to be misunderstood as the natural order of things. But they thinks a great deal, having the spare time and all, and talks to each other with great subtlety, philosophising on the bleak nature of existence, the insensitive nature of smaller birds with smaller minds, and the possibilities of a raven culture with the advantage of opposable thumbs, or claws that could carry through on the making of suitable tools to create said raven utopia. Also they likes shiny things, not unlike humans, who are given the thumbs and the brains, but rarely the capacity for such sober intellectualising.
Which is why it should come as no surprise to see a Raven with a shiny, gold two-dollar piece in his beak. Magnus the Great, being the larger of the two local owner-occupiers, turned up this evening with same and was careful to look after said same while conducting the delicate negotiations of human to Raven pan-handling. Which is a notable trick for a ravenous bird. He first performed the superior pose on the rafters of the veranda, followed by the searching gaze within to find the meat provider. When the preparations for meat offering seemed to be reaching fruition he then performed the spring-heeled long-hop from rafter to rafter both forwards and back, signifying to other, lesser avians their inability to conjure meat from humans, and the right of exclusive passage of the veranda's environs for the duration of the meal as the sole prerogative of Magnus and his ever-loving spouse.
Mister M took great care in placing the gold coin on the roof-tiles, and in reappropriating it once the meat-missile was snapped up and transferred to the crop. There was, naturally, the usual truculence from the Currawong crew, eager to dispute the rules but unable to think through what they might be, and therefore clamouring without a clear argument, and thus to no avail and no dinner. But Mister Magnus was all show and all shilling, and would brook no appeals for generosity. His message seemed to be that life was all opportunity to them that can see it, and that money may be about to fall from the skies, so it would be well to have a bucket handy to catch said moolah. Money is in the offing, he said. You are hereby informed. Take up the gold wherever you find it.
Beyond that there was no sign on his part that he had no means of spending said coin, or what a Raven would buy, or from whomsoever he would buy it, and it was reasoned therefore that while we humans may have the shopping facilities and the purses and wallets, we weren't the only ones who knew the value of a thing.