6:21 a.m. 34 degrees, wind N 0 mph. Sky: clear with a peach wash, ground
fog creeping through lowlands. Moon in the east hollowing out, horns
prominent. Permanent streams: five days in the sixties have taken a small
but noticeable toll, shallower depth, softened lullaby in concert with
nuthatches and chickadees, a woodland whisper. Intermittent streams:
reduced to puddles, in need of a transfusion. Wetlands: rising bands of
ground fog. A flyover flock of red crossbills, chattering flight calls
above the marsh, disappears into the shoreline pines, branches hung with
cones. Pond: mist, like the breath of a chickadee, barely visible.
Busy red squirrel, the sound of small feet shuffling through dry leaves.
After more than two months of attending squirrels, white pines still have
enough cones to attract nomadic red crossbills, which pause to tweeze seeds
from between the scales. Red-breasted nuthatches are conspicuous by their
absence. Not white-breasted, which haunt the hardwoods with a low, hoarse,
dyspeptic *yank, yank, yank.* Fastidiously, a chickadee forages through
loose bark of honeysuckle, a run of muted taps . . . woodpecker wannabe.
Three male turkeys strut under the feeders admiring each other,
vainglorious boasting of unhinged gamebirds, the *very *self-absorption archers
prey on. Aztec domesticated the turkey, local race called Gould's turkey,
largest and southernmost of five subspecies of wild turkey, *Meleagris
gallopavo*. A concise history of domestication: Conquistadors brought the
turkey to Europe in 1519; it reached England in 1524. Henry VIII was the
first English king to eat turkey. Edward VII made turkey fashionable for
Christmas dinner. In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin ate turkey
sandwiches on the moon. In 2020, Thanksgiving plans implode by the moment.
In 1782, Benjamin Franklin declared admiration for turkey in a letter to
his daughter. *I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the
representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. For
truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal
a true original native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain
and silly, a bird of courage.*
Franklin should see the trio under my feeders. Presumptuously pompous.
Dismissively arrogant. Disruptively oblivious of the doves and lonesome
quail forced to shuffle around heavy feet. A purple rinse of sunshine pours
down the hills, calls back the fog, ignites the morning, encourages me to
pause, light on my face, and think of Jordan, my youngest boy. It's his
birthday today, a five-star November morning. The next generation, my boys,
perpetual gifts. I'm thrilled . . . except for the fact I'm stuck at home,
footloose, fancy-free, and socially-distanced from everything but