An excerpt from Corvus Rising…
Alfredo picked up his mic, leaving his partially eaten lunch on the table. “Why do we need wilderness at all?” he said to the crowd. “I would like to answer that with a quote from Edward Abbey, noted author and outspoken defender of wilderness.”
He pulled a small notebook out of his shirt pocket and read: “‘The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the Earth, the Earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had the eyes to see.’”
A few people clapped. Alfredo smiled as he closed the notebook and put it back in his pocket.
“Too bad most of us will never see it!” a man in the back shouted.
“Somewhere along the way,” Alfredo said, ignoring the heckler, “we gave ourselves dominion over the Earth, which has all but severed our connection to the web of life. We built great cities, where we concentrated power and wealth, while we impoverished our spirits and our wild lands…”
The crowd had grown. A few crows collected in the trees surrounding the bandstand, staring down at Alfredo. Or was it his lunch?
“Cities weigh heavily on the hearts of men and women,” he continued, “and we must be able to escape them, even if it is just in our imaginations. In wilderness, we find ourselves. As we cherish one of our last wild places, let us become aware of our connection to it and impose surrender upon ourselves.”
“Surrender?” the man at the back of the crowd shouted. “Never!”
”Yes,” Alfredo said, “Surrender. The old hermit, Brother Wilder, surrendered to the wilderness we are now trying to preserve. He chose this wild island as a refuge from the world of cities and men, and spent his life in solitary contemplation of the glory of creation.”
“Who has time for that?” the man in the back shouted.
“Some of us have to actually work for a living!” someone yelled.
Anger surged in Alfredo’s chest. “While most people do not desire such lengthy solitude, it is through these pristine and unaltered wild lands that our spirits connect us to the Earth. As we gaze upon our island from across the river, its wilderness lives within us all; let us not now throw it away for a few pieces of silver.”
The crowd cheered and many clapped. A small crow dropped from the sky onto the table, and beaked a noodle from Alfredo’s plate.
Alfredo turned off his mic and said, “Well, hello little fella!”
“Don’t you know me, Jayzu?” the crow said, looking up.
“Of course I know you!” Alfredo said in a very low voice. “Grawky, JoEd!” He smiled and put out his hand. JoEd brushed it with his wingtip.
Nine more crows dropped down to the table, all talking at once.