Saturday, November 27, 2010

In honor of turkeys everywhere...

I was planning to post this on Thanksgiving, but I forgot.  This is an essay that I wrote several years ago, but I thought I'd re-post it for all of my newer followers. It's a true story. Enjoy!

Meal or Menace?

First they attacked my aunt.

She was strolling down a deserted gravel road with her sister-in-law, hoping to enjoy the nature and maybe catch a glimpse of the wildlife that lives on the 200-acre farm. Neither of them knew that they were being trailed. The stalkers prowled on stealthy legs through the nearby rye field, their savage eyes never leaving the two walkers. They snaked their way through the swaying rye and at last darted in front of the startled women. With a scream my aunt and her sister-in-law turned and dashed back up the road toward the safety of the farmhouse. One of the group still pursued them, and his powerful legs kicked up a small sandstorm behind him. He only halted when they had reached my grandparents’ mailbox near the house. With a cluck of satisfaction and a rustle of feathers, he sauntered away.

Who were these attackers? Thugs? Gangsters? Robbers? No. My aunt was attacked by wild turkeys.

These once-rare birds had first been spotted the previous Thanksgiving, when we all gathered at my grandparents’ house for the traditional family feast. The turkeys lay low in the woods, only daring to make their appearance after we had filled our stomachs with one of their unlucky cousins. Nobody knows where they came from or why they suddenly appeared.

My grandma, delighted with the huge birds, adopted them as her feral pets (to join the bunnies and the deer). She dotes on them with corn and birdseed, and she worries about them when it gets cold. Plenty of hopeful hunters have come up to ask if they could hunt on the property, but my grandma won’t allow it. “No one is going to shoot them!” she says fiercely. “My poor babies! Mommy’s looking out for you!”

However, since she started feeding them, they’ve come back every day looking for more. And they’ve gotten pushy about it, too. If you don’t have any food, they chase you. If you don’t come outside, they peck at the house and peer in the kitchen window. Many times my grandma has been startled by a “peeping tom.”

The turkeys’ appearance alone can intimidate a wildcat or send a Rottweiler running off with his tail between his legs. Their heads look like they were dipped in lard, then stuck crudely on their scrawny pink necks. Most of the males have “beards” in the middle of their chests, which they puff out while they strut about, giving the impression of a pompous judge or a wealthy businessman. I don’t know why my grandma keeps feeding those fat old vultures.

Ever since that first incident with my aunt, the turkeys have chased everyone from the mailman to the meter reader. Whenever someone comes over to my grandparents’ house, my grandpa tells them, “Watch out for those turkeys.” Oh, and I would like to add some of my own advice: don’t hang around in your car too long. The bloodthirsty birds will attack your vehicle.

However, there are some advantages to having these crazy birds around. The turkeys keep away trespassers, door-to-door salespeople, and other unwelcome intruders. When I’m safe in my bed, I can sleep peacefully knowing that a rafter of wild turkeys is patrolling the block. I almost feel sorry for any prowlers out there. Almost. I have to say I would love to see those vandals who break the windows of my grandpa’s barn screaming in fear as they run from a pack of man-eating turkeys.

© Rachel H.

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