Mack Williams column: The land where the crow flies

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 7, 2021

By Mack Williams

The other day, I started out for a drive when something both ordinary and strange occurred.

The country road was made up of the usual twists and turns. However, it was not marked as such in the North Carolina mountains, especially in that area of Valley Crucis, where one can sometimes encounter himself.

I suppose my various but slight turns might have resembled the back-and-forth dippings of that little instrumental image of wings upon a plane’s instrument panel, such wings tilting left, tilting right, followed by a general leveling.

Along the road was the general wandering of a few animals — some deer and dogs, plus a few small birds, not wandering but doing their best imitation of broken musical arpeggios on power lines. It being late in the season, there were no eastern box turtles to watch out for.

Then, since my general direction of travel was in the direction of the sun, I was startled when something fairly huge and dark seemed to come sweeping out of the glare towards me. At first, the object seemed to be on a collision course, until I realized it was about a dozen feet up. This made me think of those airplane “near misses” by separate levels of feet.

From the automatic and instinctive tapping of my brakes (good thing no one was behind me), I was able to get a good look at the “identified” flying object: it was a large, seemingly oversized crow.

But the strange thing was that the crow was flying geometrically straight above the road, except that it seemed to be using the most accurate dead reckoning in order to head directly in the direction from which I had come.

I suddenly got the strange feeling that I had entered a place containing some form of geometrical or physical anomaly, but nothing dangerous, like that ocean-based “triangle” where ships and planes have been said to have disappeared, a maelstrom out of which has appeared money made from books, movies, and “In Search Of” TV shows.

The phenomenon I encountered that day was something much less grave.

For but a few seconds, the crow’s linear path and mine had joined. Despite my motion being ground-based, I was, in effect “flying as the crow flies.”

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