The best part about Thanksgiving on the Island is that the chief decoration is free. I’m talking, of course about wild turkeys. With a kind of suicidal brinkmanship, they appear everywhere at the exact time that people are thinking, “Should we bake it? Stuff it? Hang it as a piñata?” I’ve never heard of anybody since the Pilgram era actually shooting and bringing home a wild turkey, but still — a turkey with half a brain, or even more realistically, any brain, might want to find some kind of wild bird protection program at this time of year.
My son Charlie and I spent Thanksgiving with our Chilmark friends, Dawn, Roger and Alex Greeley, and Dawn’s mom visiting from Connecticut. Late in the morning, we looked out the sliding glass door of the living room to see a flock of about 12 wild turkeys approaching the deck. The birds moved with zombie slowness, and with perfect synchronicity, right foot, left foot, their glassy, black, pinhead-sized eyes never leaving our faces, as if to make sure none of us flourished a basting can or barbecue fork. Two fatties had magnificent capes of feathers in a black, tan and brown design that would have done a Navajo blanket-weaver proud. These same turkey kings had some kind of floppy beige stocking over their beaks. All of them had tiny blue and purple croc-like nubs on their heads, tapering into tight-fitting caps made famous by all the women called Goody in the Colonial era.
Every 40 or 50 seconds the turkeys would turn to one another and emit a single, bitter screech. How they knew to blast each other at the same instant was one of those great mysteries of nature.
None of us pulled out a blunderbus and shot one of these guys, but the urge had clearly come over Roger who shouted, “I’ve got a skewer waiting for you! You smell your cousin roasting in the oven? Better run before we decide we need a second bird!” And more stuff like that. Must be a guy thing.
Dog lovers take note: The MSPCA has scheduled its Santa photo day and first annual Paws to Remember tree lighting celebration for Saturday, Dec. 1, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be hot cider, refreshments and treats for the animals. It will cost $15 for a photo with Santa in his sleigh, plus you can buy a bulb for $10 in memory of a special pet.
Also, the MSPCA is looking for alumni dogs to participate in this year’s Christmas in Edgartown holiday parade. They’ll get their alumni bandana to wear for the festivities, Saturday, Dec. 8, at 10 a.m. Please call the shelter if you and your dog are interested in joining again this year. The number is 508-627-8662.