by Jane-Ann Heitmueller
A lack of companionship was one concern Great Grosspapa Edd Heitmueller certainly did not have as he performed his daily farm chores in the spring, summer and fall of 1948. For you see, Edd had been "adopted" by a large, black crow with mysterious red paint markings on his legs and feet. Whether plowing the field, repairing broken farm machinery, planting and hoeing the garden or feeding the horses, he was constantly accompanied by his feathered friend.
Although the fowl arrived unexpectedly one spring day and disappeared that fall in the same manner, he left behind a host of tales which Edd enjoyed sharing for years with friends and neighbors.
One incident occurred on a clear fall morning as Edd worked diligently to repair a flat tire on his rubber tire hay wagon. Discovering upon careful examination that he must travel to Cullman from Vinemont for a tire patch, Edd placed the wheel bolts together beside the wheel. The curious crow sat nearby observing Edd's every move.
Upon his return, Edd was noisily greeted by the frantic squawking of his feathered friend as he paced back and forth along the eaves of the barn. The bolts were nowhere to be found! After a thorough but fruitless search of the barn, Edd began to sense that his jittery companion could solve the mystery. In a stern, commanding bellow, hands planted firmly on his expansive waistline, Edd glared at the sheepish crow and demanded, "Son-of-a-gun, you go get those bolts right this minute."
With seemingly total understanding, the crow spread his massive wings and disappeared into the near-by pine grove. Moments later he returned with a missing wheel bolt and placed it on the barn floor. With astonishment and patience, Great Grosspapa watched as the crow made trip after trip as all but one of the bolts joined its mates in a pile beside the wagon wheel.
The crow not only observed Edd doing his farm work. That fall, as the family worked diligently gathering sweet potatoes, the crow joined the workcrew. He would fly along the rows of dug potatoes, grasp a sweet potato string in his beak, and drag or fly with it to the wooden crates. Once there he deposited the potato into the crate along with the other potatoes.
One dark, stormy afternoon the following spring, while struggling to repair a leaky barn roof, Edd was startled and overjoyed to discover a very unusual sight. There, nestled safely between the eaves of the horse barn, was the crow's nest. It was a literal treasure chest of colorful, shiny trinkets.
With total amazement, Edd viewed a rainbow of glass chards, marbles, scraps of metal and, to his astonishment, the one missing wheel bolt. These treasures sparkled as brightly as did Edd's eyes when he recalled, for years to come, the special antics of his friend, the crow.
Jane-Ann Heitmueller and her husband relish a life of retirement from the field of education on their 134-year old, authenticlly restored German homeplace, Mulberry Farm. A mood of nostalgia and whimsy permeates the writings of this mother of two and grandmother of two as she attempts to reflect upon what are often considered the ordinary, mundane aspects of life, both past and present. Heitmueller's poetry and short stories have been published in newspapers, magazines and books.
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