Yes, I mean real turkeys. Out in the wild. Which in my neighborhood means toddling across the road. In truth, one is more likely to see turkeys in Northern California when out hiking around the foothills, but it seems the foothills are so full of turkeys that they've spilled out into my neighborhood.
Here's my first impression: they're huge. Thigh-high on me and I'm not a small person. They're also incredibly handsome birds, all dark feathers interspaced with paler bits for contrast and interesting patterns like the intricate Shetland wool sweaters my mom used to knit back when the summer and winter Olympic games were packed all into one year.
Okay, they're incredibly handsome so long as you don't see a male face-on. That red pulpy thing trailing down their foreheads and over their beaks is, in a word, ugly.
Anyway, my point is not to try to explain -- badly -- what a turkey looks like when I know any idiot can look up a picture in an Audubon guide. My point is to clear up a few things about turkeys. Because I know, deep down inside, this is why readers come here, to the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writer's blog. In the desperate hope someone will finally confirm or deny whether or not turkeys really make gobbling noises.
They do! And it's crazy cute. Imagine yourself on a walk along a dirt path in the woods—la la la- when you hear gobble gobble gobble! Exactly how you'd expect it to sound. And then you turn and see a male turkey with the full Thanksgiving fanned tail thing going on, wings so laden with gorgeous masculine plumage they fair trail upon the ground as he struts along.
And then you wonder: what the hell is he doing that for?
So you do a 360 and find after 180 discover that there's a female nearby. Maybe 15 feet away and… not showing the least bit of interest in the male. I mean none. Zip zot zero.
Because she has eight tiny fuzzy turkeys (turkeyettes? Turklings? Chicks?) bouncing about her ankles. And then, she notices you, makes a frantic clucking noise and all eight fuzzy things are suddenly in-flight balancing on a branch up in a tree.
Up in a tree!!
Turkey's fly! It's true! Granted it was a bit like lobbing wiffle balls. And maybe their tree branch of choice was only 6 feet off the ground. But given the angle of ascent, they probably flew 10 feet to get there, which was at least 20 times their body length. That's like flying up and over a house for a full grown turkey. Unfortunately, while I've seen an adult turkey "fly" through the underbrush, it's really more of a long-winded, 5 foot hop.
It seems somewhere along the path of growing up, they get too much ballast and become ground dwellers. Which, so far as I can tell, doesn't seem to bother the turkeys, because who needs to fly when the good food is a scratch away on the ground?
To me this is an important lesson about life: Like a turkey needs to be close to the ground to get to their proffered food source, writers need chocolate. Or they write long blogs about flying turkeys.
So this is all really a back-handed complaint that my local See's candy shop closed its doors, unannounced and without fanfare, a few weeks ago. I noticed when I and a friend walked by it one night recently. I stopped, confused, when all I passed was a strange white, unadorned storefront. It took me a moment to realize it wasn't there. But I am still, even as I write this several weeks later, sad it's gone.
Liz Jasper is the award-winning author of Underdead and Underdead in Denial. She is hard at work watching turkeys fly into trees.
Posted by Liz Jasper | 2:16 AM | chocolate, Flying, Liz Jasper, turkeys, Underdead, Underdead in Denial | 14 comments »