I live in a world of turkeys

This morning while washing hiking water bottles, one of our many wild turkeys enjoyed browsing the abundant wild food near the edge of the yard viewed from my kitchen window.

This is not an unusual sight here.  Common, really.  But not for me, and not for the turkeys, since they never get accustomed to being stalked by me.  I am never common to them.

Turkey photos at Balsamea, June 20, 2018, ~7:30 AM. CLICK ANY PICTURE FOR FULL SCREEN VIEW.


If seeing a turkey outside my window, or a robin, or a blue jay, or a crow, ever becomes common for me, then I will be the real “turkey,” the common one, the lame-brained lunkhead … common as a redneck chugging a beer on his ATV while shooting garbage he hauled into the woods just to shoot at.  (Yeah, that’s common around here.  If there’s a God, some day I’ll have a chance to catch one of those turkeys in the act.  Or, maybe God wouldn’t want me to do that.)

A couple of days ago, I stood outside the house, ruminating over some sad internal distraction that I forgot because a sparrow flew from invisible to visible right at my feet, snatched something from the ground, and disappeared.  Moments later, a chipmunk, which we have here in only small number, and which I have never seen near the house at Balsamea, only in the woods, ran up to me and stopped a meter from my feet, then scampered — sauntered, almost — under the landing to the kitchen door.

I wondered, were they working together, this flitterer and scamperer?  Toying with me?  They succeeded, if my joy was their objective.  But they had no objective.  They were just being.  And reminded me of a little of my being that needed reminding at that moment.  Fascinating.

As I type this, a robin keeps grabbing my attention at this big window in front of me.  Balsamea has more robins this year than ever before.  I almost laugh when I hear their seemingly insane racket in the morning.  This morning one of them started near my bedroom window in the pre-dawn light.  Yappity, yappity, yappity.  Here, there is no yadda, yadda, yadda.

Ah, now there is a lone dove wandering back and forth and in circles, spending an unusual amount of time on the ground in this location.  I don’t often see them doing anything but flying away, with their “squeaky” wings whistling, or perched on the ridge of the roof.  Doves here appear most often to the ear, not the eye, from a distance in the woods, and they say more in three notes than I do in a thousand words.

As I watch, the dove is finding some things to peck at in the grass and the sand, but he keeps saying to the robin, “What?  What?  What is it you keep coming back here for all day?”

This is the simplicity of contentment with living in the forest: it will never give up on me.  It is not capable of forgetting the essence of its union with me.  It is not capable of abandoning that bond.  Instead, it never stops enriching the bond, for our mutual benefit.  It inspires my love, not just for the forest, but for life, for myself, and for others.

This relationship makes me a better person.  I am my best self in the woods.

I call this relationship Balsamea, the union of the soul of forest and man, and yes, still, of dog, for the Prince of Balsamea is still here, part of this union for as long as I am.  There is another person always present here, too, always part of this union, one who has been here in the flesh only once very briefly many years ago.

Turkey feather found on early morning walk June 18, 2018

I may be my best self in the woods, but I am nicer to be with when I am alone there, because I am never alone there.  There is no solitude in a forest.  When in doubt, have a campfire.  Sit, and the world sits with you, be it a world of turkeys or trees or lovers or sages.

I suppose I will keep trying to get that one perfect picture of this elusive, clever, sensitive creature, the wild turkey.  Today I had a better opportunity than ever before.  These are not great pictures, but the best ones I’ve been granted so far.  They let me see the bird close-up on this computer screen, as if I were standing three feet from it, not the forty feet from which these shots were made.

No matter, the quality of the photos.  This is not about turkey pictures.  It’s about the grace of the gift of the life I’ve been given, grace incomparably worth these strange tears of melancholic joy.


4 thoughts on “I live in a world of turkeys

  1. I think the shots of the turkey are great, and yes, you were fortunate to get them.
    My only encounter with a wild turkey was in a wooded area outside of Kansas City MO. I was a teacher at a residential facility for kids who had been arrested.
    We were having some event out in the woods, I don’t recall what. Others were out there already and I was waiting for one student, a 14-year-old girl about my height but a good thirty pounds heavier.
    An inner-city girl, she was terrified waking through the woods. Suddenly a wild turkey shot across the path in front of us. In a split second, she’d jumped on my back and screamed, “BEAR!”
    I told her it was simply a wild turkey. She climbed off my back, was silent a moment, and said, “Don’t tell no one.”
    It was so, so hard not to laugh out loud!


    • Hi Emilie, nice to hear from you. Poor kid. I hope she grew up to love the great outdoors. Heck, maybe she became a wildlife biologist. No doubt lots of rural kids have strangely mis-identified things in cities. A kid at a big event in a big city for the first time might see a heavily armed cop in battle armor and yell, “Terrorist!” Thanks for the positive feedback on my turkey pix! -Dennis

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gobble Gobble! Seeing the images gave me a chuckle, and \I recalled years ago walking into a friend’s condo and I gobbled like a turkey… \he had known my father, who often broke out in random bird/animal calls, and the turkey was one he did well – and \i grew up mocking him.. so \i went into my friend’s place, and I’d not seen him in years… \I entered and gobbled (he knew my father..|) would you believe that night \i got an email from a very old friend who |I”d not seen in ten or more yaers, and he asked, ‘Can you still yelp like a turkey\?’

    Who would have thought that your post would re-open those memories!

    gobble gobble!

    have been out of town for the day and am 20 minutes from home.. but didn’t want this page to stay in limbo a minute more.. it’s good to have you back on wp!


    • Well, better gobble than wobble, I always say.

      Thanks for your danged fun gobble story. Of course you know what pleasure comes with a blog post triggering such good reactions in readers. It’s nice to feel reader souls.

      I’m on the verge of uploading these turkey pix and a thousand other nature pix that I like, mostly shot in the past 15 years, mostly at Balsamea, but many other locations too, to a publicly accessible site and promote them as free downloads for non-commercial use. Or, maybe make them accessible only by The Balsamean subscribers. There are so many of them, some of them with an artful touch, but most of them useful in other ways. It feels selfish not to give away what was so freely given me by the unbounded grace that life pours out to the least of us. It will be fun to let them go.

      Very busy 2 weeks doing wonderful stuff with a friend of kindred spirit on Nature, hiked every day to remote places on lake fronts and brooks and river rapids with a 100-ft long deep swimming pool in the middle, where only the intrepid can find them — “Balsamean” kind of places for hiking and skinny-dipping. Now sifting and processing all the photos … an endlessly engaging hobby, too.

      Always a special tickle to hear from you.


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