The swallows that graced summer with their air dance have migrated to a warmer place. I am still here, watching the golden rod wilt and fade. It is swiftly becoming the season of the crows. In the autumn, crows from all around the western part of Connecticut come to roost in the trees in Oakville and Waterbury. They fly silently in the evening, filling the skies over my house with the soft rustle of wings by the tens of thousands. Each evening I stand outside in the cold, my body wrapped in a shawl, to give witness to this 15,000-year-old instinctive tradition. From the west they fly, to keep warm in the trees lining the highway. At one time, Waterbury was a large and lush freshwater wetland, until industry drained the water and cemented its flow beneath highways, factories, and shopping malls. The crows remember the area where the wetlands radiated warmth during the night, and it is there that they return.
There is still one place you can see the ancient raging flow of the waters that had once percolated through the vast spice bush, red maple marsh. There is a grate in the parking lot of the Brass Mill Mall. It is there that I watch the turbulent waves tumble beneath the pavement of the parking lots. Seeing the rushing water and the scores of crows is for me a connection with the sense of deep time. I drive to work as the sun rises, and there is comfort in seeing their silent dark bodies decorating the trees. The crows keep vigil for my journey as the flow of the highway carries me on.