“Ominous” Crows

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Dec 10, 2017 02:22
Crows are reckoned to be ominous in Chinese culture. The bird has pitch dark feathers and a deep, gravelly voice. It’s generally believed here that if a crow is shrieking and hovering over a place, something unlucky is about to happen, say, a bedridden person is probably going to pass away soon. Chinese people don’t like crows; there’s even an idiom “a crow’s beak” to describe someone whose curse has come true.

Growing up in this culture, I found it hard to think of crows as likable creatures, though I haven't seen much of them in my life. However, during my several visits to the US, I saw crows everywhere, be it in urban areas or in the countryside. Strangely enough, I didn’t think they were annoying; quite the opposite, I enjoyed being with them, as well as other wild animals, because in Chinese cities’ streets, the chances of spotting wild animals were nearly zero. While driving in Portland and SF, I found it very interesting to see deer strolling on the road.

Last month, when my friend and I were driving around SF, with the misleading Google Map, we stumbled into a hospital or a rehabilitation center or whatever. We first thought the way we were taking just cut through the hospital, but as we drove further, the road became narrower. When we got to a hump and saw woods and buildings on three sides, we came to realize that we were probably at a dead end. A flock of crows, perhaps spooked by us, fluttered up and made a flurry of husky cawing, punctuating the dead silence.

We were right in the middle of a hospital, perhaps even near things like a mortuary, with a flock of these black birds swooping around and squeaking. My friend and I looked at each other, and I knew what he was hinting: that was a pretty ominous sign! We were in a foreign country and going to drive a long distance on a cliff road…

After a few seconds, I broke into laughing and said, “Never mind! It’s in the US. American culture doesn't think crows are ominous. Just enjoy our ride.” And it later turned out that we indeed had much fun the entire way to LA. It was a very interesting experience.
中国文化里面,乌鸦是一个不祥之物。这种鸟全身乌黑,叫声沙哑。在中国,如果一只乌鸦飞到一个地方,发出叫声,就意味着有不祥的事情将要发生,比如某个久卧病床的人即将去世。中国人不喜欢乌鸦,有一个习语叫做”乌鸦嘴“,说的是某人喜欢乱说话,而且还灵验了。

在这种文化下长大,我当然也觉得乌鸦不讨喜了,虽然我也没怎么见过乌鸦。但是,在美国的时候,到处可以看到乌鸦,不论是在城市里还是在乡村。奇怪的是,在美国的时候,我并不觉得乌鸦讨厌,恰恰相反,我喜欢和包括乌鸦在内的一切野生动物在一起,因为在中国的城市里,几乎看不到野生动物。我在波特兰和旧金山的时候,看到路上有鹿在慢悠悠地走,觉得很有意思。

上个月,我和朋友在旧金山里开车转悠的时候,由于谷歌地图的误导,我们误入了一家医院或者是什么康复中心之类的。我们原以为导航说的路是经过这家医院的,结果我们越往里面开,路就越来越窄。直到我们开到一个小山丘上,周围全部都是树和房子,才发现这是一个死胡同。一群乌鸦也许是受到了惊吓,扑通扑通往天上飞,发出一阵阵急促的叫声,打破了之前的死寂。

我们在一家医院,还有一群乌鸦到处乱飞,发出尖叫。我和朋友面面相觑,心有灵犀:这也太不吉祥了。我们在异国他乡,还要在悬崖上赶路呢。

几秒钟后,我笑了起来,说道:”没关系,我们现在在美国。美国人不讨厌乌鸦。好好上路吧。“ 后来也证明确实如此,我们从旧金山到洛杉矶一路上玩得非常开心。很有趣的一次经历。
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