Like many of us, I suspect, I've always pictured turkeys the way they look on the posters that school-kids tape to the bulletin boards or on the line art on a frozen turkey label. Slow, pudgy and waddling.
Sure, I've seen "1776," so I know Ben Franklin suggested that a turkey is a noble bird --a better choice even than an eagle for the symbol of this nation. As Ben said in his letter to his daughter, "For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on."
Sure, Ben, I thought.
That was until I got to see a wild turkey up close on our recent trip to the Russian River area. We stopped into Farmer Dave's house to get some fresh eggs and on the way out, we were were pulled up short by a small flock of wild turkeys lazily ambling across the road.
How cool is that?
Surprisingly, wild turkeys are really elegant looking birds--and they're BIG. Really big. No, really, REALLY big. Like, I-wouldn't-want-to-meet-a-gang-of-them-alone-on-a-dark-country-road big.
Apparently they'll grow up to 4 feet tall. And they're coming for you in the suburbs....
Michele Anna Jordan of the Press Democrat said in a recent blog post: "As I write, there are about a dozen wild turkeys walking on the roof of the barn outside my little study in west Sebastopol. A few dozen more are on the other side of the house, nibbling herbs and what is left of the white Alpine strawberries they think of as their own."
We stopped the car and got out for a look. The turkeys didn't seem to be in the least threatened. One paused and sized us up, and then ambled on with his pals into the next field.
"Wow," quoth I," I guess they'll be in trouble come Thanksgiving, though."
"I don't think so," replied my Omnivore. "Those wild turkeys are smarter than we are. I doubt anyone can even get close to them."
I think of them now as the national turkey slaughter begins and to be perfectly honest, I'm still kinda pulling for the turkeys.