Sunday, March 27, 2011

gobble gobble

The other day I came downstairs for my morning coffee and whoa! There was a huge flock of turkeys in the yard. I couldn't begin to count them, there were at least two dozen. The toms were puffing themselves up and fanning their tails, which as I understand it means this was equivalent to a singles bar or the freshman mixer. They look pretty impressive when they do this, almost twice normal size. Unfortunately, the instant I stepped out to try to photograph them they bolted, so no pix to show you.

I understand that this kind of group courtship is typical, but not nearly in such a large group. According to the Wikipedia article, they commonly court in pairs.

Anyway, leaving aside this mysterious mass congregation, Ben Franklin famously proposed the turkey, rather than the eagle, as our national symbol. This probably seems strange to city slickers who think of the turkey as the moronic domestic mutant variety, of which it is said that if they happen to be looking up when it starts to rain, they will drown. Real turkeys obviously have to survive in a woodland filled with coyotes, bobcats, raccoons and foxes, not to mention human hunters, and they're nobody's fool. They can fly quite agilely although they prefer to run around on the ground. They sometimes sit in trees, and they can clamber around in the branches pretty well.

If we had adopted the turkey rather than the eagle, would our national character be less belligerent? The eagle was also the symbol of imperial Rome, and today it embodies our militancy and self-satisfaction with aggression and warmaking prowess. Turkeys, on the other hand, are big galoots, successful at making their own way but determined not to bother anyone else.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Benevolent Universe

Of late, I had been more convinced than ever that nothing is easy and the universe is against us. (Objectively, it is, thanks to the second law of thermodynamics. But I speak in a more poetic vein.) But now with spring and all that, I'm thinking maybe not so much after all.

I went out to fire up the log splitter today, which hasn't operated since it was buried by snow on January 10. The gasoline is of even greater vintage. But much to my surprise, it fired right up and purred like a kitten. Yesterday, with the help of my brother, I got some large and jagged pieces of furniture up the stairs without gouging the drywall. I also dropped off my change of address at the post office and got my place in Boston ready for an open house today, which I am happy to say is happening 100 miles away from me.

After I've heard nothing but coyotes and owls for four months, other birds are now starting to join the chorus. The passive solar thing, with the help of the March sun and daily high temperatures in the 40s, is working beautifully. As I predicted, we did indeed have a hellacious mud season that at one point turned my driveway to quicksand, but it's dried up nicely and now I just have a lovely burbling brook keeping to its rightful place and flowing under the driveway through a culvert.

All is peaceful here, though really terrible things are happening elsewhere. It's a big planet.