I feel tired but somehow revived after yesterday’s immersive walk listening to Wintley Phipps. His voice echoes in my head and heart and Pru’s bark echoes in my ears. Her bark seems to be getting louder by the day. We do the school run and she is at her worst. A friend mentions that she could hear Pru barking from the other side of the village. I want to sink into the pavement, lower than Pru stands. Throughout my life I’ve worked hard to blend in and not to be seen. Walking with Pru makes this impossible. She is afraid of everything. She barks at other dogs and leaves dancing in the wind. She barks at passing cars and a few parked cars too. At the school gates the children gather around to give Pru scratches. Pru is nervous but she is distracted by all the love and attention. The school gates open and the children scatter to their classrooms like a murder of crows. Pru needs to burn off some energy. I hesitate at our car and then pass it by and continue to walk on to the village church. Pru and I, after a few stops and starts, finally reach the church gate and as we do the bells toll loudly sending crows in the churchyard scattering. The crows caw as they scatter, which reminds me of how powerful words and language are in framing how we see the world. I think about the crow’s caws and the word Prudence. We think we own words, but words own us.
Today I look at the crows in the churchyard trees with less trepidation than I used to. I once was walking alone and came across a large group of crows on a quiet country path. They soared above me in large numbers and were on the ground blocking my path. The group of crows was as black as night and surprisingly intimidating. I thought about turning back and then scolded myself for such superstitious nonsense. After my walk through the ominous murder of crows, I read that in ancient art the crow symbolized hope. How could this be, my English-speaking brain wondered? The crow was a symbol of hope in Ancient Rome because the Latin word for tomorrow is ‘cras’. If you happened to speak and think in Latin, and a crow cawed in the branches above, it sounded like the crow was saying and promising tomorrow, tomorrow.
Pru hears the bells and sniffs through the dried leaves at her feet. She doesn’t notice the crows. She is scared and blind to the wonder of the world that surrounds her. We walk back to the car. Pru is full of chicken treats, and I am filled with pride that we made it all the way to the church with less barking. Walking with Pru will mean being seen whether I like it or not. Pru will have to be taught which dangers are real and which dangers are not. We get home and climb the stairs to the office. Pru chews on her bone and then sneaks off to the corner to poo. Pru and poo, such similar sounding words…little stinker. I clean up her mess and type on with Pru curled up on my lap and Prudence on my mind. Prudence has come to be seen as a word that embodies caution, like a scared puppy. But Prudence is as wise as she ever was. We have framed Prudence in the wrong light and we are lesser for it.