The other day I played chicken with a turkey.
He (or she. Apologies to the lady turkeys) was running full tilt towards me. I was walking down a narrow sidewalk where piles of snow were lining both sides.
Now, in case you were wondering, turkeys look quite intense when they run. Neck stretched forward, eyes staring ahead, long legs swallowing the distance… Not exactly what you want to run into. Especially not when they’re bigger than dogs.
I looked at the turkey. I thought of his or her flock member whom I’ve seen fighting and chasing a squirrel in the snow. But then I thought also of the first time I saw our local flock flying up to the tree tops for the night, and how chicken-like, and out of place, they looked up there.
(Try eating your turkey sandwich when a large turkey fluffs his tail right out your window. Just try. I dare you. My kids and I even came up with a song for such times: “Here’s the turkey you watch/ here’s the turkey you eat./ The one is a pet./ The other is meat.”)
Sure, you look fierce now, I thought as the turkey grew closer and closer. But I’ve seen you, swaying and over-balancing and fluffing your feathers up that tree. I’ve seen you looking silly. I’m not moving anywhere.
(Well, this is what I wish I had thought at the moment. Really what I thought went more along the lines of “Aaaa I don’t have how to move aside here!” Except less PG-13.)
The turkey swerved without breaking stride. He ran over the snow piles and joined his flock on the road, where they wandered from side to side like a group of highschool girls trying to decide which eatery to enter. (“No, it’s ok, we can go THERE if you INSIST, even though I HATE pizza, but that’s OK, I’m not that hungry anyway.” “No no, it’s ok, we can go to your favorite place, sure. HOW can you stand the oiliness of the food, I don’t know, but whatever…”)
Cars stopped, beeped. Beeped again. Drivers rolled down windows, looking irate. The turkeys went on hesitating.
And then a man with a dog ran on the opposite sidewalk, and all thirteen birds took to the trees as one.
Not so intense looking now, I thought as I walked on to my kids’ school, and the drivers perked up at their canine deliverance.
I thought of writing a travelogue when we first moved to Boston. I guess I’ll be writing a turkey-logue instead.