Half a kilometer down the road is an on-going as we speak turkey convention. Now that I take the kids to school, I drive by it four times a day. By afternoon, half the participants have left for happy hour, but in the morning, I can count on fifteen or more of them milling around on convention business.
The convention takes place in a graveyard. The main hall in the convention centre is actually the gravesite of a six year old girl. Years ago, her grandparents made it into a little shrine and they keep it in pristine condition still. There are toys, a bench, a bird feeder. At night, there are soft lights. The path to the grave is always clear, even in winter. There is no sign that the turkeys find this an odd place for a convention. Quite the opposite. They love the free food, sprinkled liberally across the ground.
I pass the graveyard on my walks to the woods too. For a while there were raccoons who came. They would scamper up the trees as I walked by, then come down again when I was past. Countless deer stop by in a week, but most of the time they seem to have booked the centre for different hours. One day I saw the turkey convention with three deer standing right in the middle. I was too far off to see if they wore name tags, but it seemed to be working for everyone concerned.
I can’t quite explain why the turkey convention has caught my fancy this winter. Is it seeing so much life in the midst of death or is it just the turkeys? Turkeys are fun to watch. The way their heads move on the end of those long necks when they’re looking around makes me want to try it. I can’t get enough of the way they tip toe off in such a flutter of not subtle when they see me coming, all in a line, bustling like church ladies off into the trees, so proud of themselves for being so canny.
Most everything good and bad that’s gotten stuck in my craw these past few weeks has eventually made it to the part of my brain that remembers the turkeys. Exhausted. Excited. Discouraged. Incensed. Triumphant. I picture myself a turkey. Just one of the girls in a grand convention of turkeys. Oblivious to the miracle of life in the midst of death, but deadly serious about the way we stand, the order in the line, and who eats what when and how.