The Godturkey, part 1

A few months ago, I read an article about plant blindness, which the BBC described as a human tendency to overlook the natural world around us; to not notice, for example, the everyday miracles of dandelions growing halfway up a tree trunk, or grass defiantly sprouting through a running track.


I suspect many people suffer from animal blindness, too.

But it’s hard to not notice when you open the front door to find a deceased turkey, the size of the one that Ebenezer Scrooge sent to the Cratchits — “not the little prize turkey, the big one!” — lying in the middle of your yard.

Like so:


My apologies to the squeamish. But if this bothers you, leave now.

It gets worse.

Although I have, in months past, removed both a dead fox and a dead skunk from the center of the road for proper burial, this bird had 20 pounds on them, at least.  My shovels were all at the donkey barn, and besides, burying the bird would have taken an awfully big hole, the sort that might attract the attention of authorities.

Moreover, there was the problem that I noticed when I crept closer to make sure the turkey wasn’t breathing.

There was no head attached to the neck.

“Have you made anybody mad this week?” my mother asked when I called.

A tougher person would have grabbed the bird by its gnarly, dinosaur feet and hauled it into the woods behind my house.  I. Could. Not.

This was a new reticence, since I’ve lately become the person who has to insert herself into every small drama of nature. If there is a worm under attack by ants on the sidewalk, or a caterpillar inching slowly across a busy road, it’s as if I’ve been summoned by Artemis herself, trilling the theme song of Mighty Mouse:  Here I come to save the day!

This is not always good for the animals I purport to rescue.

Last year, during turtle mating season, a time of almost unbearable stress for me and my ilk, I stopped to “help” a large turtle cross the road.

As it turned out, the object of my assistance was a snapping turtle the size of hubcab, who did not want help.

He lunged and hissed at me, then sat there, defiant as the grass growing through the Hopkinton High School track.

About this time, a gruff man in a red pick-up truck pulls up. This was a curving, two-lane, death-trap of a road that makes New England so picturesque and so dangerous for anyone dumb enough to stand in the middle of one arguing with a snapping turtle.

I wave my arms helplessly in a gesture of despair. He gets out the truck, and I ask if he has a shovel. He rolls his eyes and shakes his head.

“Don’t need no shovel,” he says, and marches over to the enraged turtle, and picks it up by its tail, with me shrieking, “Please don’t hurt it!”

This turtle must have weighed 30 pounds, maybe more, but he slings it off to the side of the road, like an Olympian in the discus-throw competition, with me sputtering in helpless outrage.

“There,” he says, wiping his hands, and getting back in the truck.

I returned to my car and drove away meekly,  knowing that the turtle would likely have been better off had I just driven on by, instead of insisting on saving the day.

Not that this has changed my behavior. I have “rescued” other turtles since.  Some with good outcomes. Not all.

So it was good, in a sense, that the lawn turkey had already passed before I showed up.

What happened to it ultimately, I’ll tell you tomorrow.

On a happier note, here are the dandelions growing in the middle of a tree.