Well, they are back! In the meadow, in the pasture, in the forest. Yes, they are back! The Meleagris Gallopavo have returned after their Thanksgiving break. And, for anyone not aware of the common name for the Meleagris Gallopavo, the translation is “wild turkey.”
Why is it that wild turkeys seem to vanish from the fields as Thanksgiving approaches? Is it an instinctive survival mechanism? A family reunion? I don’t know, but there is nary a turkey in the vicinity of Brant Lake in the days before the holiday. And where do they go? Perhaps to the vegan village just north of Brant Lake where they can stuff themselves with berries and nuts rather than be stuffed with bread crumbs by cruel humans who refused to follow my advice in last week’s blog to eat Chinese food on the great American holiday. At least, in a vegan village, the turkeys are safe since no red blooded meat eating man or woman will venture into such terrain.
But now, red head held high, black tail spread into a giant fan, the turkeys once again stroll through the fields, their wattles swinging from side to side like a belly dancer although the wattle is nowhere near the belly. For those unaware of the nature of a wattle please consult Google, which is not the same as gobble, the latter a sound made by wild turkeys when they aren’t clucking, or cackling, or whining.
Benjamin Franklin believed that the wild turkey should be the national bird rather than the bald eagle. Franklin’s reasoning was that wild turkeys are courageous and proud while bald eagles steal fish from the mouths of smaller birds and therefore have no moral character. That may have been astute reasoning in early America but today, when concerns about morality may be for the birds, I am fine with a bald eagle!
Yet, the wild turkey has a special connection to Thanksgiving. When I see wild turkeys in the field at the head of Brant Lake, striding through a pasture of wheat, ragweed and thistles, they are never alone. Often they number a dozen or more, walking in a straight line like an extended human family sitting at the Thanksgiving table. In fact turkeys never do anything alone. Males are polygamous, a pair for each female—and this is not considered harassment. In fact, when males court in pairs, the female usually lays more eggs than when there is a single mate. 10 to 14 eggs versus 6 eggs.
How many of you knew that bit of turkey trivia?
So, they walk together, they breed together, and I wonder if when they gobble they are really singing: “We Gather Together,” the beloved Thanksgiving song. Incidentally, if you did not sing this song at the holiday table, there is still time. Once again, if you are not familiar with the words, gobble it. I mean Google it.
Also, when the orderly precession of turkeys leave the field they usually drop some of their feathers along the way. These are the well-known items called leftovers—the best part of the Thanksgiving meal. Have you ever been frustrated, as I have, when you enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s home and discover, when you arrive at your own home, the only food in the pantry is scrambled eggs? Horrible!
Therefore, the wild turkey, although not our national bird, symbolizes the wonderful quality of togetherness, even in a monogamous society and the importance of leftovers, remnants that, when gathered, can enrich one’s life.
I hope you gave thanks for family and friends.
I hope you continue to enjoy the leftovers.