“Them Turkeys Is Having a Jubilee” (update)

The video is set to “public” now. Who knew? I learn and relearn and unlearn and relearn in an infinity loop! Problem is, now all ya’ll will wonder about the “secret lives of the really wild turkeys” and this rough snippet will be extremely boring. Ah, well, it doesn’t take much to keep me entertained.


THESE WORDS FROM A MAN WITH A JOURNALISM DEGREE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, a man who was a newspaper editor, and a regional director of corporate public affairs for thirty years. You know who I mean. That Buck. Buck Westmark, who understands more than most that a writer needs to know the rules first before she sets about to smash them up against the old red shed.

David Claude Bailey, freelance writer, king of “cue,” and former executive editor and barista at Delta Air Lines Sky magazine, requested video of our resident rafter of wild turkeys, so I have (ta da) this very morning recorded a satisfyingly rough cut video  on my aging point and shoot. If you listen all the way to the very end, you’ll hear a Good Morning from my gravel-voiced darlin’, the chairman of the board (emeritus) himself.

And if you want to learn more about what to call birds, the folks at birdnature.com have the word. I think a convocation of eagles might be my favorite, but don’t you love an exaltation of larks, a deceit of lapwings, and especially a cauldron of raptors? My timidly drawn fictional characterizations are like stick figures compared to these realities.

And do you find it is impossible to read everything you want to read, even when you keep an open book in every room, including right by the sink where you brush your teeth? What a wonderful problem to have.

Okay, for David, here’s the video. It came up kind of sudden. I’ll try to do better the next time.

There’s One In Every Crowd

Turkey on the Gate

It’s hard to get anything done when there’s a wild turkey street carnival going on all day everyday in the clearing around the house. Soon as the dense fog burned off mid-morning, there they were. I counted 22, which is the usual cohort. They run around, jump up in the air and chest bump, dance, sidle, and spook the deer.

Best of all, they gladden my heart.

Hope all you folks on the blizzardy eastern seaboard stay warm and safe this weekend.

The chain-link fence gate isn’t a “wire,” but how not to think of Leonard Cohen when you look at that bird, in all its magnificent absurdity?

Not Quite Out of the Woods

Flying free in the woods is much more felicitous than being shrink-wrapped in the supermarket.

FUNNY HOW WE SPEAK OF SOMEONE being “out of the woods” as a sign that they are out of danger from a health crisis and yet when I see the wild turkeys so at ease in the woods on this Sunday before Thanksgiving, and I consider my own ease there as well, it is clear that for the turkey to be shrink-wrapped in a supermarket refrigerated case or me sky-dropped into a concrete canyon, to be “out of the woods” would be lethal for the turkeys and uncomfortable for me.

Thank you for the comfort of your words and prayers for my sister. She has just been moved down a notch from intensive care. There has been brain surgery to relieve pressure from swelling in the unforgiving skull.  There have been seizures. One day we conversed on the phone and the next she could not speak at all, and all the faces she beheld were as if they were strangers rather than her own good sons. During the past sixty hours, her ability to speak, to read, to think and to remember her loved ones and friends, has returned. The joy I felt upon hearing her slightly creaky voice, sometimes reaching for a word or phrase, is quite indescribable.

Buck and I talked once about creating video conversational interviews of one another to preserve the essence of light in the eye, timbre of the voice, body language and the je ne sais quoi that makes us us. We really need to do this for each other, against the day.

We walked the woods today. It was warm in the sunshine and a tad chilly in the shade, the sky electric blue. I hope you enjoy this little slideshow of our walk.

Wild Turkeys by the Swimming Pool

Buck noticed them first. Two wild turkeys swaying, trying to balance themselves on top of the six-foot chain link fence around our back yard. Those two hopped down onto the ground inside the fence. The rest of the flock waddled in through the gate I had left open the other day when I was going to mow one last time for the season but didn’t because some small mow-stopping mechanical thing went wrong with the old John Deere and so I left it sitting where it stopped, outside the gate under an oak tree.

We have been seeing this group two to three times a day for several weeks. They normally circle the clearing between house and woods, darting enthusiastically at seeds and bugs. It’s hilarious to watch them run around on the driveway. I can almost hear the click-click-click of their steps. Yesterday, however, is the first time they’ve come exploring into the fenced area out back. The only reason we have a fence is that county code requires a swimming pool to be enclosed. Seems kind of silly out here on a hundred acres of woods, and looks ugly, too, but in our litigious society, the fence has to stay. Guess I better go close the durn gate, too.

The pool has an automatic vacuum system we call “the blue streak.” It is subject to rear up and spray water in your face or wet your clothes when you’re innocently walking by. Buck and I surmised that big turkey leaning over toward the pool may have seen movement from the blue streak. I’ll bet if it wiggled around and sprayed them, there would have been some kind of squawking, hissing, and flying. Sure would have been fun to watch. Still, we were highly entertained when two hens moved around each other in circular dance steps so lovely and formal I swear I could hear a string quartet accompaniment.

The turkeys spent almost an hour in the backyard exploring what was for them virgin territory. They eventually wound up by my motley assortment of bird feeders near the eastern border of the fence. The feeders draw zippy chickadees, angry-eyed fat doves, cardinals, titmice, goldfinch, and all sorts of tweets my brother Wally (see his gorgeous new blog, Our Florida Journal) could identify.

How to (Unintentionally) Annoy a Young Wild Turkey

At least he looked exasperated to me. Don’t know if he was part of the group of animated pine cones with legs that we saw run out from a hen’s feather skirt a few weeks ago, but he’s probably about the right size to be one of that cohort.  When I saw this little fellow, he was sitting just off the gravel drive from our gate to the house. I stopped the car a good distance away and watched him for a few minutes. He looked at the car, then across the road, pulled his head further into his neck, and fluffed up his feathers almost over his head. I could almost imagine him saying, “Sheesh! I was already having a bad day, and now she comes along.” I didn’t have my regular camera, just the one in my cell phone, but finally decided to crank up the car again and ease slowly past the bird. I was concerned he might be injured, but when I got a closer look and snapped a picture through the open car window, he took an animated little hop over a low branch toward the deeper woods.

Backyard Turkeys

These 5 gobblers are regular visitors, as is a larger groups of hens and young turkeys. It may be due to this year’s super-abundant acorn crop, but we have never seen so many turkeys hanging about and cruising the woods. One bunch roosts in trees on the north side of the stream bed, and when I spook them walking by, the loud noise from their wings as they take flight is startling.

I halfway expect them to fly over the fence and peck at their reflection in a sliding glass door.


Monday Morning Go To Meeting Time


This turkey hen is the first we have seen since the wheat and oats developed seed heads. She came after a farmer's rain plumped up the seeds.

I am attending a county planning board meeting this morning. The optional sector plan under consideration will be discussed. This turkey might be interested if she could grasp that her favorite feeding ground could be bisected, her paradise paved.

Where Am I? What Day Is This?

I didn't mean to just disappear on everybody. Where did the time go?  All that happened is that I got a new desktop computer. . . oops. Asked and answered, right? You've been there. No food in the house. No sleep. Uncommunicative.

Yep, that's right. It's fantastic!  My experience of the last two days epitomizes the saying:  "It's never too late to have a happy childhood."

Alot has happened in the world of personal computing in the years since the last laptops arrived at our house in mid-2003. And since the advent of digital cameras, I have taken thousands of photographs: from our home at 4200 feet above sea level near Asheville, North Carolina; travels in Scotland, Maine and other great places in the world; our move back to Pensacola and subsequent building project of our home here (while we were living in the attached original cottage we now call "The Lodge"); lots of fun with family and friends at The Longleaf Bar and Grill (also known as Mary Beth's Kitchen); and a chronicle of continuous learning about wildflowers, critters and the joys of recreating a Longleaf pine/mixed hardwoods and wire grass environment and living plop in the middle of it with the loves of my life (Buck andMaggie-dog).

I've gone from working piecemeal on two laptops with 40 gigabyte hard drives and 512 megabytes of RAM to one sleek desktop with  a 750 hard drive and 8 gigabytes of RAM, plus have moved from using Windows Office 2000 to Windows  Office 2007.  Plus, the wireless is built in, so I can keep it in The Lodge where Buck and I hang out, rather than in my lovely, but isolated study where the router connection is.

The agony of researching all the computer options out there is over. I know in my heart, (and from the recommendations of some friends), that I would love a MAC, but in the end, I was too cheap to pay for one. I've heard complaints about my mainstream choice, but I was able to get a high end unit for a great price. The deal was further sweetened with a nice wireless all-in-one color printer to replace our old one that is a good secondary, but getting a bit long in the tooth. Buck helped me to think through all the various choices, and once I had settled on the winner, he had four words for me: "Happy Birthday, Sweet Baby!" (My birthday isn't until later this month, but I think this birthday present is good for several years. . .)

What did I take home? It's an HP with a 23 inch screen. Set up was a breeze with no problems at all. I have heard all the parades of horribles about Windows Vista, and figured I would have to grit my teeth dealing with it until Windows 7 comes out. Ha. No worries here. For the applications I use, (mainly words and pictures), it's easy as pie.  I even edited and submitted a short piece to a fine journal late last night using Word 2007. It was awesome for me to see two pages side by side on the screen and to realize that my tired eyeballs were beginning to recede back into their sockets and relax. 

Don't get me wrong. I can't haul the desktop around with me. A laptop of some sort — possibly even a netbook — will always be part of our entourage. Even the old Thinkpads are still great machines, and now that I've moved about 25 gigs of photos off of each one, they will probably regain some of their old vim and vigor.

Meanwhile, I finally broke away for a few minutes and ran down to check on the tadpoles and to see if the asclepias (milkweed) pods had opened during my absence.


The tadpoles have turned into frogs and hopped away. All that's left are bubbles and some tiny pink sundews growing along the bank.


The milkweed pods are popping.


The imaginatively named "man-of-the-earth" flowering vines bloom from late May through August. Luckily for me, this trio had not yet twisted themselves closed in the late morning sun.


I guess this turkey has gotten used to my wanderings. She wasn't spooked enough to fly. 

Note: I've always used Google's Picassa to store photos on laptop hard drives. Moving all the photos has turned out to be super easy by uploading photos from the old hard drives onto private Picassa web albums and then downloading them onto the new hard drive, where, (for the first time), I can have all photos in one place and organize them. I'm sure there are many other more sophisticated ways to accomplish this, but I'm grateful to have discovered this headache-free one.

March Sunrise


The Longleaf woods at seven this morning . . . When Maggie and I slipped out of the house at 6:20, it was still cool enough for a light jacket. But by seven, the sun felt as warm as my mug of coffee.

We saw a group of deer from a distance. Amazingly, Maggie stayed on my command, quivering. They spotted us, and moved off toward the woods. There was no flash of white tails. They know our ways. We turned to retrace our steps and left them to their breakfast.

“Gobble gobble gobble gobble gobble! Fantastic. I have seen the wild turkeys and their tracks. But this morning is the first time I have heard them.

Is it any wonder my feet begin to drag when it’s time to return to the house and all those construction workers?