The Parking Lot Raven
Every winter, I set off on a road trip with a single purpose: to chase snow. The winter of 2019/20 was a particularly memorable one because my father and I spent five weeks driving from one ski resort to another through western Canada. One particular experience that occurred at Sunshine Resort in BC is worth sharing.
Sunshine is an interesting ski area in that the parking area for the resort is located roughly seven miles from the highway, but the lodge at the "base" isn't actually the base of the resort. It's a staging area with a single gondola you board that carries you on a very very very long ride up to the base of the resort high in the mountains surrounded by Banff and Kootenay National Parks.
The story begins on the walk from the car to the staging gondola. I was trudging along next to concrete barriers through soft snow on the single lane road that leads to the "base". I began to hear a series of car alarms, door slams, engines starting and revving and various other car noises wondering what the hell was going on. Was this some kind of local tradition to start the ski day? At the head of every parking lane there was a light pole. The noises grew louder with each step and I realized that the source of the noises was ... above me! I slowed down and I looked up. A huge black raven was standing atop the nearest light pole, shifting his weight back and forth as his head swiveled left and right directing his attention and his vocalizations like a parking attendant ... Mimicking the sounds of the creatures he/she was communicating with.
Weeee oooo weeee oooo, Beeep Beep, Kachunk, Whooooop Whoooop, Thunk.
I was astonished. Were my eyes and ears deceiving me?! Sure enough, I stood there for a couple minutes frozen in awe. I barely noticed the people who were stepping around me to avoid knocking into the strange man blocking the foot path who was looking up at a bird. This magnificent raven holding court high on his/her perch was talking to the cars and trucks in his/her domain in their own mechanical language.
Waaa Waaa waaa, Blip blip, Chhk Chk Vrrrrrr.
All I could do was smile in amazement as I walked away.
When my dad arrived at the base, I asked him if he heard all the car noises. He said, "Yes! Really weird, I couldn't figure out what was going on." Then I asked him if he saw the raven. His eyes got real big and he exclaimed, "Holy shit!" Holy shit, Indeed.