The Implausibility of Turkeys

It is dusk. That blue time between light and shadow when the winter night begins to close. There is a fire in the fireplace, the red-shaded lamps are lit, and the candles, which have burned all afternoon to scent the room, are dwindling into embers. The dogs, restless from insufficient exercise, are at last asleep, one on his bed near the fire, the other in a cooler spot on the rug near the front door.

The windows are not yet dark, and in the tops of the trees, the turkeys are beginning to fly up to their roosts. Ungainly, ugly things, who look as if flight should be impossible, one by one they startle up and nestle into the very tops of the wind-blown trees. It starts with one. Then a pause. Then one and two, and then, in some sequence of whim or order, the flock rises into its berths. The exact location changes every night.

How they manage to stay in place all night is difficult to imagine. It seems wrong that such enormous birds should perch on such delicate branches, sometimes fanning out their feathers, so that, from a distance, they appear like giant balls attached to the top of a tree.

At dawn they will repeat the same event in reverse, until, with the climbing sun, they will pick their way in a ramshackle line from the woods, through the orchard, and across the street to the neighbor’s yard.

Their track is hard-packed and wide through the snow.

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