Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cats, turkeys and other local beasts

Although I live on a relatively busy road--the connector street between two other busy roads--I also live on the side of a small mountain. My property backs onto woods--lovely when you want to take a little walk into the trees, somewhat less lovely when a tree from said woods crashes into the yard and lands partly on the asparagus bed. (All I can say is, thank goodness for handy boyfriends with chainsaws.) Behind the houses across the street is the oxbow of the Connecticut River--which I can only really see from my house when the river is especially high.

Being between the mountain and the river (and next door to a field) means that, despite the busy street, my house is in the middle of a wildlife corridor. Admittedly, I don't actually see all that much wildlife, at least not notable wildlife. I've only seen a bear in the yard once (and heard about another sighting from my neighbor). But what I do see often are wild turkeys.

I see turkeys fairly frequently, so I'm not sure why I still get a kick out of them. But somehow, seeing turkeys meander into my yard for a spell continues to delight me. I've seen big flocks of turkeys, with show-offy male turkeys.

I've seen a mother with turkey chicks (turklings?) and then, a few months later, what I'm convinced was the same mother with her now teenage turkey children. Last summer, a turkey appeared to be taking a dirt bath in the middle of my perennials.

And I love the way that the domesticated animals interact with the wild ones (as long as those wild ones are, say, turkeys as opposed to bears). My former tenants in the cottage in the back had a dog--a sweet older dog who never got excited by much, though she was bizarrely terrified by my cats, who were then wee kittens. The tenants were down in the basement doing laundry one night, and suddenly I heard them calling me, which they'd never done before. And it was because the dog was frozen in place and refusing to move until I took away my bold little Chaya, who was all of 3 pounds then.

One morning, I was in my study, when I heard some frantic barking from the front lawn and then a sort of whooshing/thumping kind of sound. I looked out the window, and there was Gracie, the dog, barking and barking, and there, in a nearby tree was a disgruntled looking turkey. I think it's the only time I've seen one of them actually fly.

Yesterday, the first turkey of the season meandered through the yard. There have been plenty of turkeys since I've had the cats, but for some reason, this was the first time I'd seen the cats react to a turkey. All of a sudden, both cats came bounding into the study and onto the window sill. I went over to look, and sure enough, pecking in the grass and among the remains of the woodpile, was a solitary turkey. I have no doubt that they wished they could do something but stare.

When I talk about living in India, I often say that one of the things I love is the unexpectedness of daily life, how I never know what I might see at any given time. And I lament, sometimes, that my life in the US--much as I like it--isn't that interesting much of the time. There isn't that much that happens that's unexpected. And it's true that in India I've seen elephants and camels, water buffaloes and cows, as well as the truly entertaining sight of my friends' four adopted street dogs chasing--and being chased by--a fat black wild pig running frantically on strangely tiny hooves.

What I can say about life on the side of my little mountain, though, is that I never know exactly when a turkey--or many--will decide to stop by, stroll around, have a peck at my lawn, and then move on to the next stop on their unknowable turkey agenda.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Which is exactly why I love my raccoons.