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Perspective: Wild turkey surprise

Grendelkhan, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The silence was stunning.

The air still. The trees quiet. The birds hushed. Only the woosh of wind in the feathery branches of tall white pines broke the silence. Thinking I was all alone as I hiked a snowy Northwoods road, I marveled at the surrounding beauty and listened to the peace.

So, you can imagine my surprise as I rounded a hill and spotted 20 or more large, dark shapes sliding silently toward me like a wildlife battalion.

I don’t know who was more startled; the wild turkeys or me. I stopped. They stopped; their silver necks stretched to attention as we sized one another up. Expecting them to run squabbling into the woods, I waited. But instead, like a space shuttle headed to the moon, they lifted off as one, the graceful beat of their wings almost imperceptible as they sliced through the air.

Scattering to the top of the old white pines, their weight caused a shower of snow to sift slowly downward like a real-life snow globe, filling the air with shimmering sparkles. Within seconds, they disappeared into the feathery pine branches, and all was still once again. If I had not seen it for myself, I never could have imagined such a heavy, awkward bird could fly like an angel.

Sometimes nature is like that. Just when we least expect it, the surprise of the natural world presents a gift that no matter how small or grand, lifts our spirits and take us out of the worries of the world. It is a magical moment I will not long forget, for as the poet John Keats so wisely noted, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”

Marnie O. Mamminga has been a professional essayist and features writer for more than 20 years.