Of Turkeys and Trucks

Dixie and I have been walking a little further into the neighborhood every day. Now, Dixie is a complete fraidy cat and she balks at the presence of not only garbage haulers and trailers with lawnmowers. Sometimes, she runs from oversized pickups. If it’s dusk, she’ll bark at a new shadow on the street.

A few days ago, just as we were about to reach the large gazebo next to the tennis court about the distance of three city blocks, our resident Tom Turkey gobbled from a patch of trees on a small rise. Dixie wanted nothing to do with that kind of noise. She strained on the leash to get back home.

Oh, no, you won’t!

A couple of days after that, we encountered the sizeable fellow down the hill from the walking trail. I stopped to take pictures. Dixie stared at the big bird, giving him ‘the look.’ She yanked me back to the trail.

This big guy has been here for months now, and we often see the rest of the flock, but he seems to wander around without the other birds. My daughter-in-law informs me that he’s hanging out all over our Nippers Corner area. She and my son live just a half-mile down the road and she’s quite familiar with him, she says.

VB, our closest neighbor, has had more than one visitation to her backyard by the whole flock. She’s taken photos and texted them to me.

I suppose someone has named him already but I figure it was something mundane like Tommy or Gobbler. There are people in our neighborhood, though, who might choose something more stately, say, Turner. When VB heard the story about Dixie being a bit wary of the gobbles, she said, “That poor old thing is looking for a mate.” I told her we could call him Harry the Horny. (I’d heard that title before but didn’t know when or where.)

This morning, Dixie got some early barking in when the truck came for the weekly garbage pickup. She parted the white cafe curtains to give it her best mezzo-soprano crescendo. I waited until she was sure she’d run off the noisy old vehicle before heading out on our morning walk.

Just as we made it to the bottom of our little hamlet to the main road of the development, Harry appeared in all his glory, strutting his stuff in the middle of the road. His tail fanned out and his body inflated like a hot-air balloon. Wobbling on those spindly legs, I imagined that he could float into the air. (Wild turkeys can fly: domestic ones, not so much.) Harry’s swollen hood almost blocked his eyes, and his eight-inch beard swung in the breeze. Two hens picked at the grass of the corner lot, ignoring their suitor just a few feet away.

He danced circles in the street and gobbled, repeating himself after each turn. Dixie pawed me to pick her up. When I heard vehicles coming, I stepped out into the road, my twelve-pound dog under my arm, to slow them down and point to Harry in the middle of the street. Two people rolled down their windows and thanked me. He pranced and gurgled as loud as he could, and the vehicles carefully took what was left of the pavement around His Majesty.

The minute I set Dixie down and said, “Okay, let’s go home,” Harry trotted toward me! Dixie growled and howled at the same time and was in my arms again before I could even yell at him. I broke into my fastest run. He was gaining on us when a car came down the street and honked. He turned toward the hill where the lady turkeys still blithely grazed.

I huffed and puffed, trying to recover from such an outburst of energy, and said, “Okay, Dixie, you are going to have to walk up this hill.” I set her down and that’s when the moving van appeared.

I lifted her again and she wrapped her legs around me. That dog never did pee or poop on that trip. When I got her home, I turned her loose in the part of the backyard I call the Dog Run to do her business. It’s a fenced area just right for a dog playground. I sat down on one of the old rusted lawn chairs to keep an eye on her. Our neighborhood owl could scoop her up–or maybe even one of the hawks we see perching on the fence.

I do love our morning walks. Sometimes I get a good workout. I sat down at my laptop and looked up Harry the Horny. I slammed it shut when something about Horny Harry Potter showed up.

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