Tuesday, April 17, 2012
crossing the road
i slow down and pull over when i see them. they are sauntering—an everything's cool, no worries, just grazin' and gobblin' and enjoying the day saunter—across the field toward me. i roll down my window, grab my camera, take a couple pictures. this time there are six hens, zero toms. but it's spring and love is in the air so you know the toms are somewhere nearby ready to pick a good fight.
i allow the group of ladies—sleek copper-bronze-black-with-dabs-of-bluish-reddish dames with alluringly wattled heads and necks held high—who, out of necessity, have picked up their pace, to cross the road in front of my car.
but i don't drive away after they have made it safely to the other side.
the hens hold my attention. i watch them and wonder about them. once they're across i wish i could follow them and see where they go and what they do when they enter the woods. what are their turkey lives like? they seem "happy." do they know it? what is happy to them? a full belly and a warm bed? (not too unlike us) they shine. they strut. they glow with confidence because they know they look good (ah, such magnificent wattling)—just like some women.
and the wild turkey toms are exactly like some men. they, too, strut their stuff and think the women will simply fall all over themselves trying to get noticed. and they're right. some will fall all over themselves, some won't. some women will get noticed, some won't. it's a macho attitude, and also a somewhat understandable survival attitude at work, one that says i've got to pass on my fab genes in a hurry. all hens—and women, too—have known those kinds of toms at some time or another.
i don't think it's too much of a stretch of the imagination to realize that a few similarities exist in a wild turkey's life and and our own lives. we both start out wild—we begin life as wild animals—all squishy bodily fluids and functions, noisy grunts and emissions. but we become tame and the turkeys don't, and then it mostly comes down to this matter of survival, this urge to reproduce, for some of us, and for all of them. the male thinks to himself i want her to notice me—he has his reasons—and she has her own reasons for wanting to be noticed by him.
aren't we all part of this grand game, this grand show, that's been performed, over and over again, for thousands of years? sometimes i wonder, is it partially the game that keeps us feeling alive?
for thousands of years males and females have danced around each other, surveyed each other, looked into each others' eyes. what do men see? what do women see? what do we think we see? do we only see what we want to see?
questions nag at us. is he thinking what i'm thinking? what will he do? what should i do? what do we really want? whose move is it anyway? all this in an effort to feel life deeply and get a lot out of it and in the end be able to say we lived it to its fullest. (sorry that last bit sounds sort of like a lame greeting card or a corny song but i hope you get what i'm trying to say.)
and so it goes.
i drive a half mile down the road and as the car reaches the top of a rise near an old farm—a small farm, but a real one, and even better than that, an organic one, one where they raise a few cows and chickens that actually roam the fields and see the light of day, breathe the fresh outdoor air, and where they grow a few local crops without throwing chemicals in the pastureland—i spot quite a gathering along a knoll. at least a dozen hens, and this time there's a tom, too, grazing. the hens seem rather relaxed but the tom is not taking any rests; he couldn't be less relaxed.
that's because he's hard at work, teasing and showing off, trying to get the hens to please come out and play and—here he has my sympathy—any second he knows he may have to deal with the blood-thirsty competition moving in. he moves back and forth. i hear grunts and gobbles as he repeatedly opens and closes and shakes his glorious tail feathers trying to get a response to his brilliant display.
but, you know, there isn't any. the females keep picking at the ground and ignore him. (in the end the tom will win, though. the hens will change their minds and become receptive to him very soon, as nesting time is almost here.)
the game they play amuses me. (i am easily amused—in fact, i love to be amused.)
as i continue to observe life i have come to the realization that the more i think i have things figured out in this here cosmos, the more i have to acknowledge that i don't. for human beings the reality remains that there isn't such a thing as stirring the pot and making a nice reduction out of traits or problems or whatever—peoples' traits and issues and experiences and motivations cannot simply be boiled down and made easily understandable.
our true identities will always present a somewhat complicated puzzle—like the puzzles with 1000 tiny, similarly cut pieces that all look like they might fit but have to be rearranged a lot, and then the dog comes along and eats a piece and messes up the nice arrangement—even to ourselves.