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Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Turkey Whisperer

I finally found some turkey legs I can get behind.

I once had a rapport with about 100 turkeys.

We lived in Temecula California on three acres of grapefruit orchards. Not many moons before we left to move to back to Oregon, the landlord relocated a pile of almost-full-grown turkeys onto the property.
The turkeys lived out of view from the house, in a plastic enclosure about the size of a small gymnasium, fenced on all four sides. 

I had volunteered for the daily job of feeding them, and as I approached their enclosure, I would call out “Hey guys.” They would answer with few 100-fold gobbles.

The owner said they liked me. I don’t know, I was the one with the food, but still our connection was fun. Except I was sorry to carry away dead turkeys. Many died, perhaps this was a culling out process with young turkeys, or they had been weakened from the handling before they arrived.  Most survived, though, that was until a coyote discovered them. 

I would see white feather evidence outside the cage. I called the owner, and he shored up the fence with cement blocks lining the lower portion. 

However, a turkey could, in a moment of curiosity or stupidity, poke his head over the blocks and through the wire, and chomp—off when his head.

Once I dressed out a newly killed turkey, we didn’t eat it. I didn’t feel right about eating the owner’s turkeys, but rather than waste it; I did what I remembered my mother doing. Place a fowl in boiling water to make the feathers easily removed, ha, not easy, turkeys have huge pin feathers, nor was finding a container large enough to dip it in. This wasn’t a little bitty turkey, but one at least 20 pounds. 

 Next came the cleaning of it, followed by roasting

An experience I don’t care to repeat.

The dogs loved eating the turkey though.

Yesterday we discovered a basic law of physics, that two animals couldn’t occupy the same space—that was one dog and one cat watching me prepare a turkey for roasting—the other dog was smart enough to stay out of the way.

Until the day before Thanksgiving, all I had for the celebratory dinner was a bottle of wine and a jar of green olives.

Basic necessities. 

I was still wondering if I wanted to cook. I hopped to it, though, and did what a few million others were doing, collected our harvest at the grocery store, and prepared the meal.

When daughter number two, (Daughter number one was already at our house), came home during a window from work, the turkey was still basically raw.

Remember we had wine and olives…we had the trimmings too, and so we had dinner, sans the bird. 

The family commented that the stuffing was even better than usual, as the celery still had a crunch--I had removed it from the bird, and besides a giblet broth, and three cups of butter in the stuffing, it had water from boiled sweet potatoes in it. 

Our dinner consisted of mashed potatoes and gravy from the drippings, and candied sweet potatoes, and cranberries, daughter’s pickled zucchini, steamed broccoli, raw veggies, you know, all the stuff, plus about five cups of butter that flavored most everything.

Isn’t it great now that butter is good for you? 

No butter in the pumpkin pie, but then the whipped cream atop it was a close second.

No one missed the turkey. Nice that it flavored the meal though.

One year when we were building our log house and living in a fifth wheel, I roasted a turkey in an outside grill, the old sort that used briquets. I fired up the grill super-hot, stuffed the turkey, wrapped it thoroughly with aluminum foil, placed it in the grill and closed the lid.


The next morning the turkey was perfect.

One Thanksgiving day in Oregon, oh, maybe 15 years ago, I got up at around four in the morning to make the stuffing and dress the turkey. That morning as the light gradually enlivened the sky, and I chopped celery and cried onion tears, I felt connected to all the women that had done this before, or who was doing it that day.

 I was a pioneer.  

Later on, husband and I joined the 21 century, and drove to the airport to pick up our daughter who was flying in from California.

It was a perfect Thanksgiving.

I think I am complete with turkeys.

This could be a lesson for us as with old-time trauma that I have spoken about in earlier blogs. That trauma can flavor all that comes after.  Think of it this way though: 

I once had an exercise where a group of participants at a seminar where we were asked to stand and grip the back of the chair in front of us. Grip it tight.

No one told us to stop.

Finally, most of us did let go.  “Why did you stop?” asked the commentator.
“Because we were tired of doing it.”


Some things aren’t that easy.

I keep thinking of my doctor who said that people are evil. That man, who is excellent at what he does, has missed a critical point.

This may sound like a cliché’, but I believe it. “People are spiritual beings here to have a physical experience.”

To label them is to take the heart, soul, and magic out of it.
Think of that sweet baby with eyes that absorb the wonders of the world, and a smile that can knock you over.

We were that once.

We came here to have a wonderful life.

Along the way, tsunamis both real and psychological hit us, and earthquakes—you know I am speaking metaphorically, although sometimes those earthquakes are real, along with insults, injuries, and cruelty. Some of these projectiles stick, some are shaken off.

The ones we keep are the garbage you hear about that we are dragging behind us.

We spend many years accumulating that garbage, hey, it’s important to us. We can drag it out and think about it, mull it over, or talk about it whenever. Or make another decision and let it go,

It obscures the beautiful soul that we really are.

Doctor dear was looking at the garbage.

Changing his focus would be most advantageous. 

The most powerful prayer of all is “Thank you.”