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October 5, 2020
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Our Feathered Neighbors

Steve's besties -- some wild turkeys in Vermont.

Steve's besties -- some wild turkeys in Vermont. Steve Paulson (TTBOOK)

For the last three months Anne and I have been working remotely on a hillside in rural Vermont. And "remote" is the right word. We can’t see any other houses from our own house. A few neighbors live down our dirt road, but there is one family we’ve seen regularly for most of our time here. It’s a family of 15 turkeys. Actually, they appear to be two families who’ve joined forces. We can see two mothers squiring around their young charges, though by now, the youngsters are nearly as tall as their moms.

They crisscross the field below our house and then later in the day will often reappear in another field above the house. They’re constantly in motion, pecking along the ground, and will then wander into the woods or disappear in the tall grass, just like the scene in "Field of Dreams" where Shoeless Joe Jackson vanishes into the Iowa cornfield. Some weeks, we see the turkeys every day, but there have been stretches where they’re out of sight for half a week. I worry that they’ve left our fields once and for all, but so far, they’ve always come back.

I cannot tell you how deliriously happy it makes me feel every time I see these turkeys. I rush to the window or step quietly outside whenever I see them, but the turkeys are skittish - especially the two mothers, who act as lookouts for their brood whenever one strays too far. If I make any sudden movement, they scamper away. Anne teases me whenever I call them "my turkeys." 

I’m quite certain I find these turkeys far more interesting than they regard me. That’s one idea we explore in this week’s show “Eye-to-Eye Animal Encounters.” Wild animals often seem to look right through us, while at other times, they are intensely aware of every gesture we make. And then every so often - maybe just once in our lives - a single encounter with an animal will change us forever.


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