I make sure to feed the birds each winter as it’s a tough time for them. The number of avian species is remarkable and I especially love to see my turkeys when they visit. The three males (gobblers) are a treat to watch and have been visitors for two years now. I can’t help but think about dinosaurs as I watch them. They are my dinosaurs.

After filling the feeders I hurry back into the house. There is a storm coming and it is cold out. I enter the back door but before walking to the front door I turn to be sure I have secured the door to the backyard.

That’s when I see them, piles of dirt from my shoes. In the dim light of my morning awakening, I understand what they really are: turkey scat, droppings, poop! This is not going to be a “get the vacuum” moment. No, this is tenacious stuff, requiring water and maybe some cleanser.

Likely, because of my turkey to dinosaur interlude, my thoughts drift to evolution. I know this is somewhat of a quantum leap but bear with me for a moment. We surmise that survival was a very serious undertaking in the distant past. Every tactic or inherent natural characteristic or ability was, and is, vital to a long life.

Those proteinaceous piles now on my newly laid floor represent evolutionary development. That material has been similarly deposited in many forms widely distributed by all forms of life and are the product of zillions of years of natural evolution. I well know there is a sticky durability likely due to long cellular fiber and protein chains. Wetness dilutes and enhances long range distribution. And smell provides a powerful message of presence. The stronger it is the longer the range of possible detection by other animals of the same or other species. It provides some degree of safety.

Normally, I am more cognizant of the “obstacles” in my yard but the hurry to prepare for the coming snow and a misplaced step provided me with an opportunity for a deeper grasp of life and nature. Finding a deeper understanding of all things always gives me the ability to be more accepting of how things are in life. Who could imagine turkey scat providing such deep insight?

I must say, taking a moment for this reflection gave me that deeper appreciation of the world around me that I so crave. I am actually finding a growing respect for those deposits we all learn to avoid. Avoiding them is a primal instinct. Pretty effective stuff, yes?

I love living on the Vineyard. If one takes the time to look a bit deeper even for a moment, one will find far more than a cursory surface view provides.

David Damroth lives in Chilmark