“Daddy, what do hawks eat?” she innocently asked one day.
I shifted somewhat uncomfortably in my seat. “Honey, they eat mice, doves, rabbits—whatever they can catch,” I answered.
It was this simple bit of conversation which inspired me to return home that very morning and write the long form poem, really a story song, within the book.
All my life I have believed that there is far more to nature than we are aware. Perhaps the animals, birds—even the creepy crawly things, communicate in ways we can never understand. Maybe there is a conscious mind, a greater purpose to the life at work beneath the surface of our understanding… An “ORDER”.
And of course, there is the very real mystery of the crows. When I was a boy of nine I went on a family vacation with my parents, just the three of us. We went Scotland—it was cold. If I remember correctly it was January. All of the hotels we stayed at were mostly empty. I remember one morning at breakfast looking out the window to see the trees around the hotel black with hundreds of crows. They circled the building continuously, cawing angrily. The hotel manager said they came every year, that specific week—for no apparent reason. He called it “The Wedding of the Crows.”
And of course, there is the fact that a group of these raucous birds is called a “murder”. This fascinated me from an early age. The folklore around this is quite mysterious. The legend tells that a group of crows will surround one of the murder, listen to his squawking and cawing for a while, then either allow him to rejoin the group or all dive upon him and kill him.
My father, John R Cash, better known as Johnny, was much more than a musician and entertainer. He had a resounding depth of heart and understanding of nature and it’s inner workings. I grew up on a farm in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Often on cold winter’s days we would hunt rabbits, with our beagle, Gibbs. There was a thin blanket snow covering the ground that day—only three inches, but quite a bit for middle Tennessee. After hunting for over an hour with no luck we heard a great cacophony of cawing and screeching from a nearby grove of cedars.
“You hear that, son?” asked my father.
“Wow, Dad,” I said. “Those birds sound angry.”
We wound our way through the thick woods, closer and closer to the crows.
Finally, I saw their dark shapes flying back and forth within the thick evergreens. As we neared, the birds sensed or smelled us, perhaps both. They flushed in a pounding of roaring wings.
There at the base of one of the cedars lay a bloody, dead crow.
My father and I knelt down to inspect it.
“Looks like this one was found guilty, son,” he said.
True story. It is this very real memory that, among other things, gave inspiration to the story within Lupus Rex.
So though Lupus Rex is most certainly and completely a work of fantasy, perhaps reading this novel will bring to mind a deeper question: Is there a far greater depth to the mystery of nature than we can imagine?
John Carter Cash
Hernando Beach, Florida