So I’m driving over to my sister’s to pick up Jasper Bunny and take him to the vet when a wild turkey drops from the sky, landing on the hood of my car! If this had happened when we lived in rural Texas, I wouldn’t think too much about it. Wild turkeys were quite common, although, in my rural ignorance I initially thought they were buzzards.
But this is suburbia! We have sidewalks and landscaping and speed cameras at intersections. We have birds and butterflies with some squirrels and skunks. It’s all civilized and tame. There are a few ducks who like the swimming pools in the backyards behind us and our unincorporated town of Fair Oaks does have chickens which I encounter on my twice weekly walk to the library. But other than that, I don’t see too much wildlife in the neighborhood. I have to walk along the American River to see deer, which I do miss. I’m sure I was the only one who named the deer who ate my plants in Texas.
If the wild turkey hadn’t just dropped out of the sky on to my car, I probably wouldn’t have thought too much about it. I know there are turkeys somewhere around here. I almost hit one while driving not long after we moved here. I also see them along the trails in Folsom. A wild turkey dropping out of the sky, however, is too weird.
It got me wondering about the significance of wild turkeys, (I’m sure Saint Sam is also rolling his eyes reading this. It’s not a one or a zero.), as the English poet William Wordsworth reminds us in his poem The Table Turned to “Let nature be your teacher.” Surely, nature was telling me something with that wild turkey dropping right on my path.
Wild turkeys used to be plentiful in North America. Long before the Pilgrims arrived, Native Peoples saw wild turkeys as sacred and sacrificial. Their abundance made them a good source of meat and therefore they were seen as givers and sustainers of life. Turkeys remind us of the blessings bestowed upon us each and every day and we commemorate those blessings in our national holiday of Thanksgiving.
Wild turkeys can fly and run fast, but only in short bursts. Knowing how and when to effectively use their energy is quite helpful when staying away from predators. Maybe if we adopted wild turkey survival instincts we would be better equipped ourselves to assess threats and run from a bad situation when warranted. It’s taken me a lot of years to be okay walking away from toxic people and situations.
I remember the first time I heard a wild turkey gobble. It was the weirdest sound and I had no idea what it was nor could I see where it was coming from. That turkey was voicing something to his tribe – or whatever you call a turkey herd. Sometimes we have to find our own voice and then project our message. I’m not talking about the kind of voice and message of a particular Texas Senator during the government shutdown. That was not edifying for anyone. We can, however, take a nature lesson from the wild turkey and know that there is a time and audience for our message or opinion as long as it is honoring to ourselves and others.
If my brother were reading this, he would tell me it’s time to toast with Wild Turkey. Being as wild turkey spirits are not gluten-free, I will abstain. Instead, I will give thanks for that wild turkey that dropped out of the sky on to my car and consider the lessons she brings me from nature.