A Committee of Vultures

A couple of days ago, as the weather made a sudden hard turn into Spring, I finished slow-poking my favorite garden fork into the weedy mess of my potager as the sun went down, heard flapping, looked up, and saw them settling in one of the big walnut trees near the barn. Fourteen of them. A Wake. A wake of vultures.

They have lived across the creek on the top of the hill in those woods for years. Now word has gotten out that it is much nicer here at my house. I suspect the married couple who birthed their ugly, large babies in the dark dirt of my barn last March told them all about it. So they have moved.

It is unnerving—just the way they sit. I immediately googled ‘Vultures: Spirit Animals’ and did it for about 10 minutes. They represent death and rebirth. They represent patience. They represent the ancient Mother(s) (??). They have been revered by every culture for thousands of years. So one need not be upset, although they do have that we’re here because something’s gonna die or is already dead vibe.

The positive? I may not have to buy an airgun to scare them off to another place. They are quiet other than making Jack crazy bark, but bluebirds are a hell of a lot louder. They are powerful and intelligent.

There is also something rather gentle about them. They are my companions in the natural timing of the days; as they leave the tree in the morning and return to settle in around twilight, I am somehow comforted.

We are tired at the same time, and they make me feel as though I know what I am doing at the end of the day: now go into the house, drink a big glass of something, fill the sink with hot water and dish soap, soak your hands, wash whatever needs washing, don’t think about much, be quiet, sit with the dog and wait for night to fall. Then go to bed. And get up at dawn, be quiet, and then get going.

For those of us who live closely with other beings, may we be aware we are blessed by their Otherness rather than offended or fearful.

May we see what we are meant to learn about ourselves, perhaps quiet, patience, or—for me, the best of all—who my wise Teachers are, the ones who run across the greening earth, the ones who rise through the water, the ones who fly—because I cannot—not the way they do.

But they are giving me everything as they go, their glorious darkness and light. They take me with them.

I want nothing more than that.


  • Renee Armand

    Singer, songwriter, and poet Renee Armand, born in Los Angeles, was discovered by Tony Bennett in her twenties and now lives on a 19th-century working farm outside Nashville. She spent years touring the world with John Denver, has released four albums, and sang the Oscar-winning song "The Morning After."


Most Popular