We are right in the midst of turkey season. There was Canadian Thanksgiving, American Thanksgiving this week and Christmas on the horizon. Turkeys are generally the centrepiece of holidays. How often do we ever think about turkeys beyond the dinner plate? There is a lot more to these birds besides stuffing, gravy and the rest. After reading the Old Farmers Almanac’s turkey trivia, I’m not so sure how much I can think of them as food. But, that’s just me. Below are interesting facts about turkeys including a letter from Benjamin Franklin asserting they really ought to be the national symbol.
“Turkeys originated in the “New World.” Specifically, wild turkeys are native to Mexico. It’s a funny history. European explorers brought back wild turkeys in the early 1500s. They were domesticated in Europe and later brought to North America by English colonists. Note that the domesticated turkeys have white-tipped tails; wild turkeys have dark-tipped tails.
Only male turkeys, or toms, can make a call known as a “gobble,” and they mostly do it in the spring and fall. It is a mating call and attracts the hens.
Wild turkeys gobble at loud sounds and when they settle in for the night. The wild turkey can make at least 30 different calls!
Ben Franklin thought the turkey would be a better national symbol than the bald eagle. According to the Franklin Institute, he wrote in a letter to his daughter:
“For my own part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly…like those among men who live by sharping and robbing…he is generally poor, and often very lousy. Besides, he is a rank coward; the little king-bird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district…For in truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America. Eagles have been found in all countries, but the turkey was peculiar to ours…”
The loose red skin attached to the underside of a turkey’s beak is called a wattle. When the male turkey is excited, especially during mating season, the wattle turns a scarlet red. The fleshy flap of skin that hangs over the gobbler’s beak is called a snood and also turns bright red when the bird is excited. The wobbly little thing on the turkey’s chest is the turkey’s beard and is made up of keratin bristles. Keratin is the same substance that forms hair and horns on other animals.
The wild turkey is one of the more difficult game birds to hunt. It won’t be flushed out of the brush with a dog. Instead, hunters must try to
attract it with different calls. Even with two seasons a year, only one in six hunters will get a wild turkey. By the 1930s, almost all of the wild turkeys in the U.S. had been hunted. Today, thanks to conservation programs, there are plenty of wild turkeys—they even invade cities and suburbs!
When Europeans first encountered the wild turkey in Mexico, they incorrectly classified the bird as a type of guinea fowl called a turkey fowl. It was Turkish traders who originally sold guinea fowl from Africa to European markets; Turkey has no native turkeys!
A baby turkey is called a poult, chick, or even turklette. An adult male turkey is called a tom and a female is a hen. The domestic tom can weigh up to 50 pounds, the domestic hen up to 16 pounds. The wild tom can weigh up to 20 pounds, the wild hen up to 12 pounds.. The wild turkey can fly! (It does, however, prefer to walk or run.) The domestic turkey is not an agile flyer, though the bird will perch in trees to stay safe from predators.
The average life span of a wild turkey is three or four years. It generally feeds on seeds, nuts, insects, and berries.”
I prefer not to mention the life span of the domestic turkey. It is sad. BTW, did you know there was a passenger on a plane who boarded with a turkey on a leash. It was his emotional support and therapy pet. True story.
Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating this week. Please stay safe. Count your blessings. Bon appetit.
Comments are welcomed.
You are probably familiar with the song, Autumn Leaves. You know, the one that begins, “The autumn leaves drift by my window. The Autumn leaves of red and gold.” I’m not so taken with those drifting by my window as much as the ones that pile up on the ground. The other day I was walking with a friend along a street which had places where leaves had piled up. Likely blown onto the street by the wind. We walked through the leaves listening to the crunching sound as we went. Walking through crunching leaves is seriously one of my favorite aspects of Autumn. The only thing missing was a street vendor selling hot roasted chestnuts.
Those few moments of joy brought back some childhood memories of fallen leaves and the great fun we had playing in them.
My all time favorite involved my 3 best friends who lived on my block. The Presbyterian church was right across the street from my house. There was a big lawn beside the church contained by a chain link fence. The minister’s daughter was my very best friend in our group. Consequently we often played in the church yard and sometimes even in the church itself. When the leaves fell to the ground in Autumn we would go into the church yard and make huge piles of leaves up against the fence. Then we’d go outside the yard, climb the fence and jump into the magnificent piles of leaves. We would do this over and over again until exhausted. At that point we’d lie down on the ground and completely cover ourselves with leaves.
It was an innocent time. It preceded cell phones, social media, video games, et al. Most of the time we were left to our own devices, our imaginations and spending hours with neighborhood friends doing whatever popped into our heads. Usually it was games, sports, playing pretend or just hanging out. Whatever we did always became fun, joyous fun.
Here's the thing. We hardly need reminding of the crazy, stressful times in which we live. The longer it goes on, more folks seem to be wearing down. One of the things I find helpful is either recalling and re-feeling a cherished, joyful memory or indulging in something playful. With the big second wave upon us, we all need a stress breaker. Take a few moments, or longer, each day to do something that gives you joy. Do something playful or even silly. It will short circuit any stress and allow dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin the feel good, happiness hormones to flow. Even lowers blood pressure.
Self care is an important part of well being. Give yourself a mental break. Do something out of the box.
“Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold. Other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.” Douglas Pagels
Choose your favorite color and go for it. Or, you can always jump into a pile of leaves.
Comments are welcomed.
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, November!” Thomas Hood
November is a month of nuts and nutty thoughts. When I think about November, I experience an agglomeration of nutty and not so nutty thoughts. When I think about November, the first images that come to mind are trees with bare branches, intermittent sunshine, a chill in the air, snow, shrinking daylight, looming winter. In other words a picture that oozes bleakness and cheerlessness. Pretty depressing, right?
While those dreary thoughts swirl around, there is always another side, another array of images. There is the crunching sound from walking on leaf covered paths, the comforting smell of wood stove smoke wafting through the air, hot roasted chestnuts, mulled cider, the enticing aromas of spicy baked goods, family gatherings. And, in case we may have forgotten, 'tis a time to be thankful. The truth, of course, that it is always time to be thankful.
It is definitely November, but we are currently experiencing a weird weather anomaly. I have to wonder if those in charge of the seasons were pranked by some unknown force or are playing a big joke on us. For nearly a week we have been experiencing very Spring like temperatures. As if the pandemic hasn’t messed with our heads enough, Mother Nature has gotten into the act, too.
November is definitely a month of nuts and nutty thoughts. Enjoy the nuts and smile at nutty thoughts. Most of all, be thankful for all of life’s blessings and the blessings in your life.
Comments are welcomed.
“With each year the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch he thinks is most sincere.” The word around the pumpkin patches is that the Great Pumpkin decided to stay in lock-down this year. Who can blame him? A lot actually happened this weekend that affects us on many levels. Besides it being Halloween there was a blue moon the same night. A blue moon is when there are 2 full moons in one month.
The next one will not appear until 2023. That is like 2 powerful forces colliding. If you were a teacher, worked in an institution or just noticed what was going on around, you may have been aware that people of all ages do not act themselves when there is a full moon. Then add Halloween which can carry it’s own weird energies and you might have wanted to duck and cover.
It is said that things come in 3’s. The third thing to complete the trifecta was the time change. The good news about turning back the clocks is getting an extra hour of sleep. The less good aspect is that out come the experts on such things citing there are more accidents after the time change. As standard time rolls along and the days get shorter, depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can set in. It seems that with each time change more and more people are asking for it to discontinue. Just select standard time or daylight saving time and let it be ad infinatum. Hopefully, one of these days someone who can affect change will get the message and do something. I’m not holding my breath.
This weird weekend being over, what’s next? For one thing, the Mercury retrograde ends tomorrow. While that’s always a good sign towards better communication and less technology glitches, with the topsy-turvy world we are living in, who knows anything for sure.
The facts are this is not the only crazy time people have lived through. If we go back to around 1918, World War I was coming to an end, the Spanish flu pandemic hit, there was prohibition. The U.S. then moved into a depression followed by another World War, followed by the civil rights movement, the cold war, and on and on. Nearly every decade had major, significant issues to deal with. All of these conditions could be considered crazy making. At this moment in time we have another pandemic, a devastated economy, the effects of climate change, social justice, deep uncertainty and on and on again. Because we are all right smack dab in the middle of this craziness, it feels like the worst of all time. And, if that’s how it feels, then that’s exactly what it is.
What the heck do we do? There is one thing that can give some relief. It may sound like a rose-colored glasses or Pollyanna thing. It is not. It is a small act that can cause a brain switch from anxiety or stress to a degree of calm. Try pushing the pause button on thinking about the craziness that is going on all around and acknowledge some of the good things. There is still beauty in nature. Who has done a kindness for you recently or a kindness you have done for someone else? What are things and people in your life for which you can be grateful. I’m sure you can come up with many examples yourself that you can focus your attention on. This really works. Even if only for a short period of time. However long or short you can focus on goodness, it does provide a respite from the crazy.