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The Raven Toll Collector

The Raven Toll Collector

One of the things I love most about traveling in ceremony on behalf of the animals is how many small moments spin themselves out into stories.

It was early morning—the last week Yellowstone National Park was open—so traffic was minimal.

The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful. Winter was approaching, and nighttime temperatures had dropped below freezing. Mist clung to the valleys and meadows. And the sage plants were all delicately outlined in frost.

Rounding a bend we discovered a herd of buffalo grazing on the grasses, and mingling in the road. It was a minor buffalo jam, and I was content to simply sit and watch the family interactions and marvel at the frost that outlined their massive beauty. In that moment I truly understood how well adapted buffalo are for surviving the punishing winters, and admired them even more.

A little further down the road we encountered road construction, and we once again had to stop and wait.

A raven perched in a tree to our right swooped down and landed on the shoulder of the road. With a rolling-swagger that always reminds me of a sailor who has spent a very long time at sea, the raven began to march officiously up and down the road peering into each car.

You are not supposed to feed wildlife in Yellowstone, but I think they mean the larger, more dangerous animals such as bears, wolves and bison because the ravens seem very attuned to people who might have tasty treats like the organic Somersault sunflower seed snacks we were carrying.

This raven KNEW we had the goods, and I had no problem sharing. I opened the car door and tossed one treat out. The enterprising fellow snapped it up, and it disappeared out of sight—swallowed, I thought. Then with the air of a pirate captain about to board a conquered ship he fixed his eye on me and demanded another. (See video below.)

The next snack disappeared just as quickly, and that’s when I saw that he was storing them. He could cleverly fit five of the fairly large Somersaults in his mouth, spitting them out and restacking them to fit better when the next one came along.

When Raven had all he could hold, he flew off to stash them in his “secret” hiding place, and then returned to patrolling the line of cars for his next victim—er, willing donor.

The following day we were once again stopped for road construction at the very same spot. And there was Raven—collecting tasty tribute from his captive audience of travelers.

A fine ambush spot for a Raven Toll Collector!

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©2015 Rose De Dan. All Rights Reserved.


Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.

Her book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.

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