Friday, December 07, 2007

Turkeys In The Road [CCR]

Yesterday an entire flock of turkeys brought traffic to a halt on the road by our house. I was driving along minding my own business when we first saw the cluster of about twenty turkeys lined up beside the road. As I slowed four of the giant birds entered the road. Twenty years ago I would have had dinner on my mind, but today dinner is the last thing I think about. Today a simple fender bender can easily mean a total loss of your vehicle so I could not take any chances. If I only had that 1951 Chevrolet truck or even the 1966 Jeep we once owned. In those days it would be foolish for any turkey to spend any time in front of my bumper.

Driving home from Granddaddy Daily’s house after dark in the old truck meant keeping a watchful eye on the road. Rattlesnakes were our prime target. Our old truck meant certain death for a rattlesnake warming itself on the retentive heat of the pavement in the cool night air. I can only imagine a turkey would be an even better catch.

Rain didn’t help when watching through the windshield. The truck used a six volt battery system and did not have electric windshield wiper motors. As most of our older generation may recall, our wipers ran off the motor vacuum. The only way to speed up the wipers was to let off the gas and allow the motor vacuum to momentarily pull harder. It wasn’t always an option on hills such as the one at Mt. Mills. Of course not many rattlesnakes lay out on the road in the rain either.

Later, in my teen years, driving the Jeep was slightly different. We did have the electric windshield wipers, but the heater didn’t necessarily blow strong air to defog the windshield. The combination of summer heat and rain often meant humid air in the Jeep and many swipes of the windshield with a cloth to clear your vision. The Jeep, with its homemade iron bumpers, didn’t fear many objects along the road. It was built before we engineered the minimum amount of steel to keep the occupants safe without allowing for extra expense in building the vehicle. Yet no turkeys crossed my path. Maybe they understood.

While I didn’t see the incident with my own eyes, it has been said that my Uncle Ezell did hit a turkey with his truck. I don’t have the details, but I understand the turkey bounced over the sideboards used to haul cattle and landed on the bed of the truck. According to the legend he didn’t have to slow down to carry the turkey home.

The flock we saw yesterday didn’t budge from the highway. I debated on sounding the horn, but I sat in amazement that these birds didn’t fear my presence. It reminded me of the time I lived in Georgia and a turkey hen attacked me for stealing her blackberries. The gobbler waited at the edge of the trees and egged the hen on while she actually pecked at my hands.

Three cars lined up behind me before the flock decided to move on. I then continued along my way wondering if these turkeys comprehend the human fear of damaging our modern vehicles. Later we saw another flock gathered in a pasture. Maybe they gather and laugh at the over protective humans who dare not disturb their walk across the road. If only I could find that old Jeep or the old truck. I would restore honor to the human race and once again reclaim the road for my drive to work. But for now I wait patiently and use the time to recollect earlier times and other places.