A rafter of wild turkeys

It was a blustery morning; the day was just getting started and I was cold. Cold is one thing I do not get along with anymore, so I sought out a sunlit corner and looked out over the Jones hay farm, inviting the nascent rays to penetrate my hide and warm my bones.

Warmer weather was testing the waters, but winter was not yet willing to concede the field. Small buds populated the mulberry and cottonwood trees, but the incoming storm threatened their existence.

Vernal winds delivered clouds of red sand to the porch and scattered the tiny grains across the cement, depositing them in corners, crevices, and cracks. I told the solitary couple inhabiting the restaurant there was no sense visiting Monument Valley that day.

“Just sit tight,” I said, “and it will blow right past before you finish your eggs, bacon, and toast.”

“Really,” they teased back.

“Yup,” I assured them. “Mittens, Merrick Butte, Totem Pole, and all. Right here at our doorstep. Don’t even have to leave your seat.”

During my morning shifts at Twin Rocks Café, I often watch the hayfield to see what beasts or fowl inhabit its confines.

Usually it is the Canada Geese, which honk, strut, and squawk the entire acreage, but at times there are small, graceful deer herds or lone pheasants rasping out their solitary calls.

On that particular morning, I noticed two oddly shaped forms emerge from the alfalfa stubble, amble onto Highway 191, and parade south along the center stripe.

“Turkey?” I questioned.

That was something I had never seen in Bluff, but turkey it must be, I concluded. A few moments later, a lone car hurtled past, driving the pair off the asphalt and back into the grass.

It took a while, but soon the duo returned, and this time they had friends. Altogether there were four females and one male navigating the road.

Watching them in the quiet of the new day, I could not help thinking about the traditional Navajo stories Priscilla tells trading post customers.

“Turkey brought the seeds up from the lower world, so the Navajo could feed themselves. He carried the white corn in his tail feathers and the blue corn around his neck.

“The yellow corn is hidden in the small feathers above his tail, and the mixed corn on his wings. The squash he places under his right wing and the melons under his left.

“The tobacco is under his tail, and the beans are in that little piece of flesh that stands on top of his beak.”

The rafter of turkeys crossed below Melvin’s house and reemerged on Navajo Twins Drive, just west of the café. By this time, the male was flaring his feathers and strutting elaborately for the females. They acted disinterested.

“The toms get crazy at times like this,” the male diner said, “and you can call them right in.”

“Like all males during that process,” I suggested.

“Yep,” agreed our female companion.

Taking the opportunity to co-op Priscilla’s program, I mentioned her story of turkey bringing up the crops.

“Culture is fine,” said the woman, “but if you want real entertainment, just watch men when there is a sexy female around.” Pointing to the gobbler, she drove the point home, saying, “See what I mean?”

“Nuff said,” I responded and retreated to my corner, waiting for Monument Valley to blow by.

San Juan Record

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Monticello, UT 84535

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