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A Crow Called Ack

A Crow Called Ack

by Jennifer Christie Temple
© 2016 all rights resevered

When I was ten years old, my dad came home from work carrying a baby crow that he had rescued from a nest in a tree he had cut down. I fell in love with that bird as soon as I saw his scruffy little pink body and stubby black feathers. I called him Ack because that was the noise he made.

Eventually, when he became restless and showed signs of wanting to leave the straw-lined box that I had prepared for him, I spent hours encouraging him to be brave enough to jump. As he gained courage, the awkward fluttering down to the floor evolved into short flights across the kitchen and I watched with glee; no mother bird could have been prouder.

Ack and I became constant companions. Before school, I filled his feeding bowl and topped up his water and, as soon as I got home in the afternoon, I would lift him up to ride on my shoulder like a pirate’s parrot. I even managed to teach him to say ‘hello’ and ‘Mum’ although, to be honest, I think my mum taught him that last one while I was at school.

As soon as Ack became properly active, my mother decided he should live outside. “It’s bad enough having to wash bird poo out of your jumpers,” she told me, “without having him spread his mess all over the house.”

I could see her point but I was terrified that he would fly away. The thought of losing my very best friend and beloved pet was more than I could bear. There was no way round it though, so I put Ack’s makeshift nest in the big shed in the garden and pestered my parents to remember to shut the door.

As the first buds of Spring began to appear, Ack became restless. The talking had stopped and he rarely rode on my shoulder now. He began to flutter at the shed window and although I tried to tell myself that he was just complaining because I was leaving, I think I knew that he was unhappy.

One day, as my dad was planting vegetables in the back garden, he stopped me on my way to see Ack and nodded towards the shed. “Don’t you think it’s time you let him go?” he said quietly.

“But he’s mine!” I protested.

My dad nodded and turned back to his digging. “Yes, he’s yours,” he said as he worked, “but you should think about what would make him happy, that’s what you do when you love something.”

I went into the shed and looked at Ack. I wanted to keep him so much and the thought of letting him go was horrible. “I love you, Ack,” I said. He cocked his head and gazed back at me.

Although I cried, I knew my dad was right. It took me three days but, eventually, after my last ever visit with Ack, I left the shed door open. I sat by the apple tree and watched the door for ages but nothing happened and I began to think that my friend had decided to stay after all.

I had almost decided to shut the door again when, with a flash of black, Ack swooped out of the shed and soared into the sky. The sight of him flying so high made me proud, despite the tears that I could not stop and I watched him until he disappeared into the distant Ash tree.

I used to imagine it was Ack when a crow swooped over the garden or perched on the ridge of the big shed but one crow looks much like another and I never knew for sure. There is no doubt, though, that my time with Ack taught me all about unconditional love, with a little help from my gentle and wise father of course.

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