(Photo: Mark Seth Lender (c))
This time of year, all eyes are on the turkey. But as Salt Marsh Diary writer Mark Lender warns, in their natural habitat these birds don't mess around.
YOUNG: For most Americans, Thanksgiving dinner means turkey. But as Mark Seth Lender cautions, if you’re thinking of making a meal out of a Wild Turkey, better think twice.
LENDER: Turk-turk turkey comes jerk-jerk lurking on, tip to toe. Cautious, like ice just itching to melt. Through parkland, under low-lying limbs drip-drip-dripping with dew. Patient like mud settling where deer, galumphing, stirred up still water. Driving slow and low and through and through from tall grass to scrub. Look at them go.
Tough. Bad. Ain’t no Butterball, ain’t no Song Sparrow. Checking out the quiet part of the woods ahead of would-be girlfriends, might be lovers, always moving cover to cover. Then right behind taking their sweet time wouldn’t you know, here those Birdie-Birds come, tut-stut strutting their stuff, proud and tall and don’t gonna be no one’s – I say, no one’s stuffin’! They might look sweet.
First best think on this: Before you get to the eats have to beat down twenty pounds of lean, mean muscle armored like a weaponeer. Got spurs on the backs of their legs sharp as a thorn. Got a beak that means business. Fly straight up, chase Someone down the block, wreck SOMEONE’S whoooole day. So back away. Keep on lickin’ your lips, that “Someone” gonna be YOU! Morning catches the sheen, at shoulders, back, cusp of wing, iridescent as Mother of Pearl but these ain’t no Pretty-pretty Peacocks, no Birds of Paradise makin’ nice.
Don’t be calling these turkeys “Turkey” to their face. Feathers broad and flat as dragon scutes, breath like Mace. Neck like a reptile, long and ropey. Glaring; Staring; Violet, blue and crimson red. Horn of flesh in the center of the head. Bald as a vulture. Eye as dark as obsidian glass. Feet that leave a four-inch track. Pickin’ their toes with a clickety clack! Like those who have risen from the sea and crawled back in (seal and sea lion, whale and dolphin) some take to the sky only to return to land: Wild Turkey, that Jabberwock, weighty presence, work of art. Less than the sum, more than the parts.
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