My little happy dream came on the cusp of that whole Mayan 2012 thing. Most everyone I came across was hoping for a shift, a rise in awareness, and looking back, we were all getting it in so many little ways. We’d heard it was the beginning of a new age that had been dawning since the 60’s, Aquarian and such. We even had a president that seemed to be acting to benefit the majority of people a fair amount rather than a select few. He had brown skin and was clearly the choice of the populous majority. I had heard it was the end of duality in opposition. I had heard it was now a woman’s time, that that which had been suppressed would become more impressive, and I believe it has, is and must be more it we are sustain human life on this planet. The Yin like inward side of things embodies to me a lot of this, and the Raven carries it through the sky and conveys it with other ravens and of course their slightly smaller cousins the crows. In the process I have been rife with ideas like: abundance more than some alternative and Peace, also more than ever before. For the book I’m doing my best to draw upon all this symbolism in a succinct way that taps into an enduring innocence and simplicity that predates all the thought and most of the words. Hopefully in doing so, we are allowing some old and tired and divisive ways to rest, go to ground and be transformed. We are letting the blackness in to reclaim the illusion of separation that scientifically, could never really exist. And now here, it appears this happy little bird has emerged with his quintessential darkness to be with a great many more than just me.
Raven Named Crow is original fiction written and illustrated in the children’s bedtime story tradition. All copies will include Spanish translation. It is a relation to place poem inspired first by the crows of my youth who yet often reside at Fanto Park, Durango, Colorado, 7th Avenue where I grew up. The bird nation inspiration spirals out from there to Horse Gulch, Main Avenue, City Market parking lot, even outside of Durango, to the mountains, the desert, and into New Mexico, Old Mexico, Alaska and back. The Raven Named Crow character came to me in a dream. I saw this bird with a maroon beanie over his eyes smiling, he was very happy, and also like when we see Stevie Wonder play music, very blind. It was the kind of dream that is pretty rare for me, where I wake up feeling super energized, and the vibrancy of it pervades the whole day to come. I went about my life for a little over a year thereafter. Having related the tale to a few friends here, I even asked one artist friend if she could try and draw him for me. It never matriculated but the thought was something that stuck with me and made me happy. A feeling I could be reminded of anytime a big blackbird would call, or fly by with wind whooshing under-each-wing-flap. Having felt the will to write since the fourth grade, ever practicing the craft, and dissecting words cognitively, the stories also accumulated. I had a long-owned fascination with a yin-like blackness, and merging it with my interest in the corvidae family the fiction was born out of the times and if no other than my own personal pursuit of balance. I had some money saved as a means to begin compilation and I was fed by the limitless love that a parent can have for a child. In the process of bringing Raven Named Crow out on to the page for people to enjoy, it all has helped to revitalize the child in me.
Raven Named Crow, RNC, was so animated he had to be in a kid’s book and with my then two-year-old son, that was all that I’d been reading at the time. One day in early April of 2013, I attended my first Durango Indie Author’s Group. Someone opened the meeting and announced that the group was designed for authors who are published or working on future publications, and I guess that is what I really needed to do at the time because when I introduced myself, I announced that I was working on this publication, and so it was hatched. On my way down the staircase, a designer approached and said she was interested in working with me.
The very next day, I was proposing this book to an Illustrator, Miki Harder, the best Raven artist I could think of for the job. We had never formally met before, but I knew where she had a second job, so I introduced myself. I told her how I had admired her work, and how Ravens and Crows had become a part of my life. I told her that I wanted to do something for these birds that seem to have fallen so out of favor. As an example, I related to her a story about this one loud, irascible, and incessant Raven on a Moab light post. It was in the parking lot above the grocery store picnic table where I was eating lunch. No telling exactly was going on with that Raven’s life, but the way it cried was laden with emotion. How it called and looked directly at everyone was very discomforting. If I had to guess, I’d say the emotion in its voice was akin to the death of a very dearest loved one. Again, my happy raven dream came to mind, and I tried to listen to the bird with compassion, even if I had to have my head down to do it. It was clear this being needed something more than food scraps. There, in the parking lot, it was like she or he needed to be legitimized in some way, and that is when just the opposite occurred. An older couple was sitting next to me and the woman started in with, “What are they good for?”
All her husband could quietly come up with was, “They clean up the trash off the side of the roads.”
At that conclusion, Miki stood there before me, in one of those timeless moments, at the entrance to the Diamond Belle Saloon, wearing her black and red corset attire. Her head somewhat fallen, and her light blue eyes, were tearing up and reddening at the whites. I began weeping as well.
Shortly thereafter, we began exchanging e-mails and comparing interests that aligned. We talked about the symbolism of Ravens and Crows being first one of blackness. Then we spoke of the lore around Ravens and Crows being as old and diverse as any in the Northern Hemisphere. The most poignant in our conversations were the Tlingit story of how Raven emerged from an utter blackness and created the world, and Miki brought Huginn and Muninn to the table. The birds, respectively named “thought” and “memory” sat on the shoulders of the Norse god Ullr, and as I understand it, would relay news from all over the world via the Raven Network at dawn. They were the fastest messengers of ancient times.
I began to write the stories. She liked the style and we began to work together often meeting once a week and conversing on the phone, text or e-mail whenever we needed. The coffee shop meetings were the best though. She would show me these beautiful renditions and it felt like everyone in there was a little curious to see. Titles don’t usually come to me before the work is done but this one did. I felt I had enough story for a series, but we needed to start with just one, and it was clear I was trying to do too much, too soon. Finally we landed on one simple bedtime story, part of a tradition of design to make children sleepy. “Good Morning Little Raven,” was the working title. Today, now after being rewritten numerous times, it wears the master title, Raven Named Crow.
The book itself will be some 32 pages long. 24 -28 of which will be illustrated in color to the highest quality. Most likely each page will be 11 inches tall and 8.5 inches wide. It will be released in hard cover, in order to endure the rigors of a toddler, and the pertinent information can be seen on the spine. Children of about two or three years of age will be able to understand this book when elders read it to them. The average seven-year-old should be able to read Raven Named Crow for themselves.
We have done all of this to do something we truly loved, and this is still the reason we want to finish the thing. It will be four years of work in April and we are so near. We have at least 85% of the artwork dialed. Our designer has become versed in our vision, and offered to work with us for free because to her it was inspiring. We also have numerous people who have pledged to buy the book, and we hope that everyone who reads it will feel some measure of peace before they go to sleep.