We’ve entered that season many of us know as Christmas; a time of year when hustle and bustle can so easily overtake our lives. As youngsters, it was our desires, our longings, our yearnings that became the focus of our lives during the month of December. We thought we wanted, in fact needed, that pair of ice skates or that furry hat with the pom-pom balls at the end of the ties. At least, those were my desires when I was ten and eleven years old.
In fact, I coveted that hat to the point where on Christmas morning I snuck down the hall to the living room and peeked into the gift bag with my name that sat under the tree. I was at once delighted/disappointed. Yes, Mom and Dad had fulfilled my wish and I would look like the other girls at school who donned such; but . . . the moment of surprise was gone and I’d have to feign my excitement. I don’t remember if it ever dawned on me that the hat was just that–an expensive, fancy covering for my head. One I didn’t need given that Mom loved to knit hats for us.
And then there were the Christmases that my guy and I bent over backwards as we tried to create a special day for our sons. And as we all know, the empty boxes were the best toys of all.
Now, as I take an honest look at my past and wonder about the future, I realize that my attitude has shifted. No longer is it a frenetic, mad dash for the best deal or piece of plastic. My life has taken on the form of slowing down, noticing, watching, even in the darkness.
And it was in doing so yesterday and today, that I realized something rather special in the ordinary.
We’ve all become used to seeing wild turkeys on roadsides, in our yards and occasionally even up in the trees they fly to when danger lurks or nighttime falls. But . . . think about it. Meleagris gallopavo, that fancy scientific name, have been the comeback kids since farms of yore reverted to forest, thus allowing these large birds to reestablish in their former range.
Because I put bird seed in feeders and spread it on the ground, the neighborhood turkeys stop by for an hour or two at least twice a day.
And they aren’t the only visitors to the feast, for red . . .
and gray squirrels also take advantage of the free meal.
But it was the male turkeys upon whom I focused much of my attention for it occurred to me today that they were unicorns in their own right. Unicorns had a single horn protruding from the center of their heads, right? Okay, so maybe its a snood. But still.
As for their magical powers, have you ever noticed that a male’s featherless head of blue and pink and red raised bumps called caruncles change colors with his moods?
Shifting my eyes to the back of the shanks or leg, the unicorn theme was reiterated in the form of a pointed spur.
The theme again was repeated behind the toes, where a claw stuck out on its own in the area we might call a heel.
Check out the bottom of that foot, its bumpy surface much like a no-skid sock. Certainly there must be more magical powers protected within.
From behind a window in the back door that served as a bit of a screen, I watched the feeding station without disturbing the activity. The squirrels and male turkeys (their rafter ranging in size from 9 to 13 depending on the hour), devoured the sunflower seeds.
It appeared to be a blissful co-existence.
Until it wasn’t. The gray squirrel was the aggressor.
Every few minutes, it took a flying leap and so did the young jakes and older Tom.
Simultaneously, other gray squirrels decided to show off their own super powers, such as finally scaling one of the poles. Too bad I hadn’t put a suet feeder on it yet.
He moved on to the bigger feeder–jumping first onto a baffle intended to keep him out. From there, he reached the top of the squirrel-proof feeder, and . . . um . . .
proceeded to open the cover of the seed tube.
The interior must have seemed like manna from heaven.
Into the inner sanctuary he descended.
His super powers included his ability to debunk “squirrel proof” and perform a disappearing act–almost.
The day continued and so did the turkey and squirrel activity. And then, as the turkeys were moving away, a healthy red fox climbed over the stone wall, walked among the turkeys and paused. The squirrels again performed a disappearing act and were silent for once, but the turkeys didn’t appear threatened. Perhaps the fox was sated for the moment.
In the case of the turkey, and yes, also the squirrels, we complain there are too many. But, we should give thanks that we’ve created an environment that’s conducive to successful turkey breeding. As for the explosive squirrel population that resulted from last year’s mast production of pine, beech and oak fruits, the red fox is on the hunt.
At the end of the day, calling a turkey a unicorn is in the eye of the beholder. But, in his own form of handsomeness, he portrays a similar sign of hope.
As the holiday season continues, I hope you’ll also make time to watch . . . and be attentive to other signs of hope.