Turkey Tales

Hi Folks:

As we celebrate this day of of appreciation for family, friends and all that we are blessed to have, we thought we’d share a few turkey stories with you. 🦃

First off, if you’re a Vinyl Café fan you may have well have heard Stuart McLean’s turkey stories: Dave Cooks the Turkey and Dave Raises the Turkey. If not, feel free to wander over to CBC to listen to a recording of them!

Okay, now for some stories that are a little closer to home:

1) When Mike was about 4 or 5 his family lived in southern Manitoba, about 45 minutes or so NE of Winnipeg. Lots of snow in the winter, and deep cold… – 40° is where the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales converge and that was a good day. One day Mike’s dad and a friend of his were driving down a lonely country lane miles from anywhere, without a building in sight, when they saw a turkey sitting on top of the snowbank at the side of the road.

They couldn’t believe their eyes so they stopped the car and got out, but there it was… frozen solid in the snow. There were no farms nearby and no way of knowing from whence it came, so after much deliberation they opened the back of the Pontiac Laurentian station wagon, tossed the giant fuzzy snowball in and returned to the warmth of the vehicle – surprised at their good fortune. They headed back to town.

It was good and warm in the car, and as might be expected the giant snowball in the back of the car started to melt. And move. It wasn’t quite dead. And it wasn’t happy. 🦃

2) Back in the 80s Mike was doing some field work with the government in southwestern Ontario, and the crew had rented a house on a farm property. Theirs was a secondary house next to the main house, a barn, and a construction trailer they’d set up as a lab. In addition to the gardens there was a flock of white turkeys that had the run of the yard, and the owners had a spaniel-sized dog, good-natured, that also roamed the grounds.

Well, just before Thanksgiving the family took off on a trip, leaving the dog behind. Mike and the crew didn’t think anything of it, but whatever plans the family had made to feed the dog must have fallen through. It wasn’t obvious at first, but it all came to a head when she successfully chased down and killed one of the turkeys in the yard. It was too late to save the bird, but it was collected anyway and since the dog’s distress was laid open, a bag of good dog food was procured. The crew ate the turkey for Thanksgiving; nobody brought up the topic of the ‘missing’ bird. 🦃

3) In the 90s Marcia and Mike lived for a while on a 200-acre property in southern Ontario. This story is from Marcia, a part of her collected Swallowtail Walk stories. This one is Nearest Neighbours:

Seems to me it was autumn that first year when we met our nearest neighbours. It must have been, since I recall the grasses grown high on either side of that long driveway from country road to our newly adopted 5-car garaged-home.

We had two visitors staying with us that late fall day. Both had come to check out the new place. The women were lifelong friends of ours. C. I had known since I was pregnant with my eldest child. T. was one of the children Mike had babysat for when in his teens and with whom he had kept in touch over the passing years. Both women had met each other at various functions we had held and each was pleased to know that the other would be visiting at the same time.

C. chose to reside in the downstairs granny flat we had furnished. There was a massive wall of floor to ceiling windows and the view of, and access to, the valley at the back of the house. And C., like us, loved that huge shower stall. T., in addition to her curiosity, had an alternate purpose for her sojourn with us. Working toward her Master’s degree, she needed a quiet place and space to think and write, to spread her research notes about for accessibility, to match her thought processes to her work. Our offer to allow her a stay at the cottage by the lake was readily accepted.

It was on one of the days when Mike was in town and T. was on an apparently productive writer’s roll and still at the cottage, when our neighbours stopped by. C. and I had just finished breakfast and were still sipping at our by-then-cold coffees when we decided to step outside for a bit of warmth and fresh air. Both of us being city born and raised, it was always a delight to be able to hear the wind, the birds, the crickets and cicadas, the bees. C. couldn’t seem to get enough of it. I really do think she’d have moved in with us if we had made the offer.

On this day the quiet was appreciated and we both soaked it all in. No words were needed between us. The shared awe was all that was required to connect us. Until …

Suddenly there was the oddest sound emanating from the far eastern field across from the drive at the front of the house. The tall, dry grasses were rustling in what seemed like an unusual pattern. We watched as a slither-like movement wended its way slightly south-west and toward the driveway rather than further south to the road. Thinking it was maybe neighbourhood children due to the fact that we couldn’t see anyone’s heads bobbing along this route, we waited until they, whoever they were, came into view. And as the wave of grasses bent closer and closer to the open area by the drive, we anticipated seeing whom we had (by this time having discussed a variety of options between us), assumed to be some of the neighbours’ kids out on a hike.

Well, were we in for the shock and delight of our lives. We are so grateful we didn’t call out to them or they would have fled in every imaginable direction – never to have returned again, I am sure!

The first to pop his head out from between the grass blades was a very stately wild turkey. I determined him to be in the middle of his years in age. Plumage full and fluffed up to make him look larger than his skeletal body alone, this regal bird stood sentry. As though a human crossing guard near a public school area, he looked left, then right, then left again before moving ever so slightly to the side to grant permission, if you will, to the next surprise – another wild turkey. This one was younger, also a male. And he made the same motions. It was as though ensuring for his own peace of mind that there was safety from both sides before he stepped out from the grasses and onto the gravel drive. He was prompt in his departure from one space, across what would have been to him a vast openness, to the sheltered other side. It was on the west side of the driveway that he then took the second sentry role. It was a few seconds before our third surprise poked her head through to brittle grasses.

A female emerged, with her muted tones and small build. Gathered around her feet were five mini versions of herself. Too young to have taken on definitive gender feathering, they all looked alike from our perspective. The five all had the same small stature and relatively cowering behaviour, at least initially. But then one of the chicks seemed bolder than the others and almost stepped out onto the gravel by himself when the hen made a squawk that had him running back toward her. Nothing happened for a moment. Then, with a head bob by the Eastern Sentry, mother hen and chicks collectively made their way to the other side and were whisked into the invisibility of the undergrowth of bushes beside the Western Sentry.

Bird after bird followed the same path. Each was given permission to cross. Each strutted or rushed or sauntered from one side to the other. We started noticing not only gender differences, but also age variances. Seemed we could tell a teenager from an adult by the confidence or the excitement displayed in its presentation. After the first few appeared, we began to count the number of birds in this family. There were more females than males. And we were shocked to notice that there were several domestic female turkeys in among this family. Likely having gotten out from whatever farming pens they had been caged in, these females had been adopted into the Wilds community and were now part of the collective.

In total we counted 29 turkeys. What an exciting adventure and we didn’t even have to leave the front of the house! C. still tells the tale to this day.

Yet how is it that Mike and I had been living on this property for several months  only to find out that we had a huge resident population of wild turkeys? In the days and weeks to come we determined that the clan made exactly the same route every single day, rain or shine, without exception. We followed their trails so that we knew where they called ‘home’ and what paths they took, in order for us not to disturb their daily run. 🦃

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. One more for you, this one from Mike’s Auntie. Mike’s grandmother, once married, moved from Toronto to a homestead farm in southern Manitoba. There she raised her seven daughters, and had more than her share of adventures. This is one of them:

I can (dimly) recall an incident that happened on the farm when D. was there. Seems he looked out the kitchen window and spied this turkey strolling through the yard. He says to Momma, “Hey! There’s a turkey out there!” And Momma said (kidding, I’m sure!), “Well, go get it and I’ll cook it for you.”

Well, no sooner said than done, he presents her with the dead bird. Oh-Oh! This was not our turkey (we had chickens, not turkeys!) What to do? What to do? Well, the damn thing’s already dead, there’s no use wasting it. May as well cook it and eat the evidence, right? Best be quick about it and all, so the deed was done, turkey in the oven smelling wonderful and Mom probably wishing it was eaten already but so far, so good. Oh! God forbid, who should come a calling but old John (whose turkey this just happened to be!) Talk about, “Be sure your sin will find you out!” Well, old John parks his fanny like a bump on a log on a chair in the kitchen… and stays, and stays… Mom is seeing visions of him being there until the damn turkey burns to a crisp because she obviously can’t baste it with him sitting there, now can she?

He finally left and I guess we ate the damn thing but I don’t think Mom enjoyed her meal. She wasn’t cut out for a life of crime. 🦃

Photo of the Month – Telling Stories

Hi Folks:

As a creative challenge our local photography group undertook the following:

“Make photos of a place where something has happened. Then, in one or two sentences, tell us what happened there (even if it only happened in your imagination).

Go to places and pay attention. What does it feel like there? How is the energy? What kind of thing may have happened in that place?

Take the photo, post it, and in the caption, write one or two sentences that tells the viewer what happened.”

The image below was one of ours. You can see the rest here.

Want Ad
WANTED: One Girl. Toddler-size. Must believe in fairies and love sparkles and dancing. Lackadaisical approach to footwear a bonus. Special consideration given to those with matching shoe. No experience required.

Okay, that’s it. Now go out and make some photographs!!

Hugs,
M&M

Who am I? / Who I am!

Who would you be without your story?

~Byron Katie

Hello Dear Ones!

Something has been on my mind and in my heart of late that I wanted, and needed, to get down in print.

The past several days I have been contemplating two issues:
1. Who am I without my stories?
2. Who I am without my stories. Continue Reading →

The Spirit of Canada

Hi Folks:

Last night Marcia and I were down at ‘The Well’ on Fort Street for the semi-finals of ‘The Spirit of Canada‘ – Poetry, Spoken Word and Singers/Songwriters’ Contest.  Our friend Sheila was reading poetry in the event and has moved on to the finals on August 6!!  All of the poems and songs were to incorporate Canadian culture, politics, landscape and/or humour, and there was some excellent talent there.  Listening to the various performers, however, got me thinking about what it means to be Canadian, and I was reminded of a story shared with Marcia and me some years ago.  I think it captures the essence of Canada in many ways.  I was going to write it out for this post, then remembered that I’d already done so a couple of years ago.  Here once again, then, is ‘Telling Tales‘.

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. If you’re in Victoria on August 6, be sure to come by The Well for the final presentations!

Marcia’s Meanderings – Gratitude & Appreciation

Hello Dear Ones!

The day, water, sun, moon, night…I do not have to purchase these things with money.
~Plautus

The above quote is such an inspiring one for me. It helps me to recognize the abundance of all good and wonderful things that there are in my life – ones I do not require money to purchase, yet that enrich my life immeasurably.

Here’s another quote with the same focus:

We don’t want things, people, or events. We want the feeling we mistake them for.”
Cindy Teevens from Twitter

When I look around me at the people, things and experiences that bless my life, I can’t help but to be grateful. I am so appreciative of all the bounty and the beauty around me; so fortunate to have such incredible people sharing their lives and walking with me on this journey called life. Many of you I will never meet in person. You bless my days remotely via the internet – through Twitter and Facebook.

There are days when I’m feeling grumpy or frightened or angry or less than abundant or … and on those days it is so easy to see the dark side of life rather than the bounty and the blessings; to see the glass as half empty rather than full – one 1/2 with the fluid of your choice, the other 1/2 with air! It takes less time these days to get to a place of feeling better – that in itself is a true blessing! It used to take days, weeks; there was even a time when I went months in a state of despair. That was a world and a lifetime ago. I am grateful every day that those days are long behind me. (BTW: I used to spell grateful – greatful! After all I was filled with the greatness of wonder and appreciation!) Continue Reading →

Marcia’s Meanderings

Happy Monday!

In fact, it’s the last Monday before Christmas. Are you ready yet? If not, then I wish you playful power shopping that will energize you as you find the absolutely perfect last minute items at the greatest of prices and in the least amount of time!

My mind certainly has been meandering today – wandering here and there  – and not settling many places for long. Realizing that my level of inspiration was teetering on the brim of several different containers of thought – all varying shapes, sizes and colours – I chose one of the most colourful of them all.

There’s been a story that I’ve had hiding in my personal ‘Marcia’s Writings’ folder on my computer’s Desktop. This story has been sitting there since my daughter-in-law was still carrying our first grandchild – our beautiful, happy and precious Hayden who is now 20 months old.

The story of Grandma’s Gift came to me in a flash one rainy afternoon and wouldn’t let me rest till I had written the last sentence. It was a pleasure to write – fun and freeing and fabulous!

Before submitting it here, I had thought to change the name of the little boy in the story to be that of our grandson. However, this is the story of a different Grandma and a different child…

It’s time to reveal this story out to others. I’m sensing it needs to be told. It may be just the story for you. It may be that I need to do this for me. Either way, I’ve placed it under Marcia’s Stories within Our Stories … but you can just click Grandma’s Gift to read it now if you have the time ….

In Light & Laughter,

Marcia

He Says, She Says…

Hi Folks:

This week’s ‘He Says, She Says’ was inspired by the following quote from Abraham.

“Just let go of the incessant description of where you are, and start telling the story differently. Start telling a story that feels more downstream to you. And how do you know what’s downstream and what’s upstream? You can tell by the pressure against you.” … Abraham-Hicks

Keeping that in mind, we thought we’d share our thoughts on ‘The Stories I Tell Myself…’

Follow these links to read what He Says/She Says: Marcia’s View / Mike’s View

Telling Tales

Hi Folks:

As a writer and a storyteller, I love stories.  Over the centuries stories and songs have fulfilled many roles, from entertainment, edcuation and enlightenment to geography, history, genealogy… even becoming a central core of a People.  For example, the People from the Trobriand Islands can sing back nearly 200 generations of their history.  I was at a conference years ago and one of the speakers was an elder who spoke about ‘ownership’ of stories, and that it was necessary to have permission from the story’s owner before one could tell them.  For my part, I respectfully disagree.  Stories must be told, must be shared to be kept alive.

This story remains one of my favourites.  It was told to us by a man who approached us after a talk given by Dr. David Suzuki.  I trust he won’t mind my sharing it with you, although I must say that I’m writing this out from memory and any errors are mine alone.  For the sake of privacy I’ll call the gentleman who shared this story with us just W.

This story happened in northern Ontario, in a town named Cochrane.  I’ve been to Cochrane a few times, even did a little work up there.  One of its claims to fame is that it’s the southern terminus of the ‘Polar Bear Express‘, a train that runs north up to Moosonee and Moose Factory, near the shores of James Bay.  It’s also the home of the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat and Heritage Village.

Anyway, the story begins when W. was a boy growing up in the Cochrane area.  Like many other boys he loved nature and spent half his time hanging out on the Reserve or wandering around the woods.  When he grew up he went south to university and work, but at the time of this story he was back up in Cochrane acting as liaison on behalf of the local band.  Cochrane has a half dozen hotels now, but there was a time there was only one, and he was staying there.  One day he looked out the restaurant window and saw a large U-Haul truck, packed to the gills, stuff tied on the roof…  ‘Just someone passing through’, he thought.  The next morning the truck was still there.  At dinner it was still there, and the following morning it was still there.  He also came to associate this truck with a woman who was sitting alone in the restaurant.  Finally the restaurant manager came over to him and said, “You speak city, go and talk to her.”  So he did.

Turned out she was from New York state originally.  Her husband had passed away suddenly and she found herself alone.  She had a friend who lived out on an island off BC’s coast, and her friend suggested that since there was nothing keeping her in New York, she should pack up and move to BC to be with her friend.  Well, she made it as far as Cochrane, but now she was stuck.

Before I go any further with this story I should explain that Cochrane is situated along Hwy 11 in northern Ontario, and the highway on both sides is rimmed by endless miles of black spruce forest.  It’s an amazing ecosystem, but to the uninitiated it looks like one mile is the same as the next and the next and…  And well, she got to Cochrane and she froze.  She couldn’t go forward, and she couldn’t go back.  “What would happen if I broke down on the highway?” she asked.  “This is northern Ontario” was the reply.  “If you break down the first vehicle to come by is going to stop and ask you what you need – food, a place to sleep, a tow truck, blankets, some gas… whatever.”  “What if I got attacked?” she asked.  “This Is Northern Ontario!” came the warm reply again.  “People look out for each other up here.”  “And all these people keep coming up and talking to me!” she said next.  “This is northern Ontario… ”  “Look”, he said.  “You see the trees out behind the hotel?”  “Yes.” “Okay, this is what I want you to do.”  I want you to walk back there, not too far – stay within sight of the hotel – but walk back into the forest a bit, find a place where you feel comfortable, then sit.  After you’ve sat there for a while and you’re feeling relaxed, I want you to pick out a tree that you like and I want you to give it a hug.  And don’t let go until it hugs you back.”

Well, after giving it a moment’s consideration she got up and left, taking a walk toward the trees behind the hotel.  She was gone an hour, two hours, three hours… and W. figured either she was doing okay or she was lost, but either way it would work out alright.

The next morning when he got up there was a hotel envelope slipped under the door of his hotel room.  He opened it up and all the note said was, “It hugged me back.”  And she was gone.

*

Thanks to W. for sharing this story with us!  If you drop by here sometime, you can check out the ‘Our Stories‘ section and from time to time I’ll post some of my own experiences.

Love,
Mike.

Photo of the Month

Hi Folks:

I’ll get into the philosophic issues of pride and narcissism in another post perhaps, but since one of my great loves is photography, I thought I’d dedicate the last day of each month to a ‘Photo of the Month’ page. Basically this will be my favourite image of those I’ve made during the past month. If I go a whole month without making any photographs it will likely mean I’m in a coma or something like that. So, below is my favourite image for November, 2009. It may not be your favourite image from my work (you can see more here), and you don’t even have to like it. On the other hand, if you think it’s the best work you’ve ever seen I won’t be offended by that either!

Without further ado…

Driftwood Sculpture

Driftwood Sculpture

(click on the image for a larger version)

As humans we see the world in colour (or at least most of us do), but as photographers we can train ourselves to see the world differently – not just in terms of composition and ‘rules’, but we can begin to appreciate how to ‘see’ in black and white as well.  Some colour photographs are good specifically because of the colours contained in the image itself – the photgraph at the top of this page for example has a whole mix of colours from deep oranges through yellows and blues and into violet hues (although these show up better in a print than on screen) – but with black and white we strip away those colours, and the cues that we get from the colours themselves.  What we’re left with is form, shape, texture, hue, highlight, shadow…

This image was made along the shoreline at Dallas Road in Victoria, BC.  When I first saw it, this jumbled pile of bits and sticks reminded me of this story, one I wrote several years ago.  Using the power of the wind and the waves, with ocean water and stones for tools, a living sculpure is created.  If I’d come the previous day, or the following one, the image would have been different.  Sand castles are magical like that too.

Mike.

P.S.  As for the sign thrown back by the ocean, that’s closer to this story.