Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mouse and Crow

Stopped in the left-hand turn lane at a traffic light, biding my time, something on the road caught my eye. It seemed the light took longer than usual to turn, other cars were waiting, and I was growing impatient. On the other hand, had the traffic been moving, I might not have seen it at all.

Mouse photo by George Shuklin

A small brown creature, probably a mouse, raced under a car in the right-hand lane and disappeared around the tires of the car in front of me. I watched carefully until it appeared on the other side, but then turned back and again scurried out of sight under the car. Flicking back and forth, my eyes quickly scanned the ground around the cars waiting, but I could not see the mouse. However, something else now drew my attention.

Crow photo by Atli HarĂ°arson

A large black crow flew in and landed on a corner pole. Looking down at the street, it quickly lifted off and landed on the hanging traffic light, then flew across to the pole on the opposite corner. From the cock of its head and the frenzy of its flight, it was readily apparent that the crow saw the mouse. I now watched the crow, for it knew exactly where the mouse was.

Crow photo by DickDaniels
Whether or not it knew the crow was there, the mouse had a problem. It had three choices:

It could return to where it had come from, racing under the cars, up the curb, and into the tall grass at the side of the road. There, among familiar haunts and runs, it would feel secure and might be relatively safe. But the crow would see it in the spaces between the cars and the cars could move at any time. Still, if it could make it, it would be home free.

Mouse photo by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos
It might choose to visit the field on the other side of the road, running across the empty lane, up the curb, and into the brush. That route would leave it exposed for a longer time and, if the light should change, cars turning the corner into that lane could run over it. If by chance it should make the other side safely, it would be in strange, unknown territory and face new challenges. However, living conditions might be better than they had been where it came from.

The third option might seem to be the safest. It could stay where it was and huddle close under the edge of a tire, out of the sight, claws, and beak of the crow. Then again, when the light changed, as it would any second, its tiny life would end - with a squish and a crunch.

Crow photo by JJ Harrison
The crow - a hungry scavenger - also had choices, which it obviously was weighing carefully. If it flew down among the cars to try to snatch the mouse, it was at a definite disadvantage. If it waited for the mouse to make a move, in either direction, it could miss its chance completely. So it was either risk life and limb for a full belly or survive unscathed, but go hungry.

Crow photo by Nebrot
The analogy here did not escape me. In many different ways we may consider taking a step backward, staying put, or boldly striking out in new directions. We all go through life needing to make choices, each choice having associated risks and rewards. While the risks might not be life-threatening, they can be terrifying none-the-less. Consider the mouse and crow, and then do what you feel you must.

Mouse photo courtesy of the National Park Service 

And that particular scene that I witnessed? The light changed and we all drove off, leaving the unknown outcome in the dust...

Crow photo by Walter Siegmund

All picture files from Wikimedia Commons


  1. I loved this post! In life we often do not know the outcomes of random situations we happen to run across. And we have to make choices constantly...some small, some big. Sometimes we don't realize how huge a small choice actually was until years afterwards. I just loved this post!! :):)

  2. oh yeah, i've seen this scene while driving many times...especially when i spot a group of buzzards ahead...picking at a carcass...too close to the driving lane. inevitably, there's always at least ONE buzzard who chooses to play 'chicken'...and makes me wonder if he will fly away at the last second...or force me to make a wide round-a-bout!

    choices!! not always knowing what the outcome will be...if it turns out to be the 'wrong' choice, hopefully we'll have the opportunity to make a DO-OVER!

    happy sunday!