India ink on Bristol board.
5 x 7 inches
When my better half and I were up near Yellowstone National Park, we stopped at a gas station tucked in a pine grove.
Out of nowhere, a very large raven flapped over to us.
He began to strut around, accusingly eyeing the bag of Fritos we’d just purchased.
“Sorry, this isn’t good for you,” I said.
The raven then began to follow me to the Subaru, hopping about and making piteous gronking sounds.
Just then, another car rolled up. Seeing that I wasn’t an easy mark, he scuttled over to the newcomers. Delighted, they tossed him a handful of Oreos.
Concerned about the bird’s human habituation (and long-term health), I asked the gas station attendant if he knew about it.
“Oh, that’s just George,” he said.
As it turns out, George was a regular fixture, and had been fleecing gullible tourists for more than 20 years. “Maybe longer,” said the attendant, “that bird was here even before my old boss took over the place.”
Now, ravens have been known to live on average for 6 to 10 years, but there are records of birds surviving in captivity for 40 years or more.
If this was indeed the same raven, perhaps his summer diet of gas station snacks served to help him get enough calories to survive the harsh, tourist-less winters.
Or maybe he’s an anomaly, like the rare chain-smoking factory worker who lives to be 100.
Either way, I hope to see George next time we go up.