Stopping for Turkeys

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Your standard work day. Did some good work, offered my knowledge and labor, learned some things. Heading south toward home. Near Burlington, some traffic. Not bad, considering, but not quick. The traffic loosened as I moved south into more rural territory. Then the car in front of me braked, more quickly than for just a turn off the main road.

It was turkeys. A whole gaggle of them crossing the road. Well, not a gaggle. That’s geese. You could call it a flock. They are birds. Call it a rafter. Seriously. A group of turkeys is called a rafter. Once upon a time it was a raft, I guess. Then it got colloquialized.

Anyway, this rafter crossed the road. There were eight or nine of them. Or ten. I maybe didn’t see all of them. The majority of them ambled from west to east and blended into the trees. Three of them hung out on the other side, pecking at the grass. Cars started moving again.

Turkeys have made a comeback in recent decades. They once were booted entirely out of Vermont, but they came back. Now they are everywhere in the state. Still, it isn’t every day that one must pause in one’s vehicle to let them waddle across the byway. Lucky me today.

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Full On Spring

Not Turkeys

Not Turkeys

A few days ago I noted that, from a distance, some newly installed culverts looked like turkeys.  I went and checked them out today and, as you can see, they are not turkeys.  They are not, as I also suggested, made of metal.  They are full on plastic.

Leaves Unfolding

Leaves Unfolding

The trees around here are not leafing out in all their spring glory.  This tree at the end of our driveway has been busting green across the blue sky.  The orioles seem to like this one in particular.

Flooded Fields

Flooded Fields

It rained like stink last night and yesterday afternoon.  We drove home from Burlington My great-grandmother in-law’s 90th birthday celebration)  in the rain to meet our babysitter. The children were asleep, lulled by the drops tickling the windows.  This morning the fields around and about were flooded.  The beavers and the geese are loving that.

Laplatte River Running High

Laplatte River Running High

The river was full this morning as well–more than your usual CFS flowing under the bridge.  Our friend Kathy came for the night but she had to leave before we took this walk.  She arrived just before 2:30 AM from a late flight to the Burlington airport.  She left about 10:30.  Only and eight hour visit and most of that asleep.  I trust she enjoyed the fine spring day with her daughter when she got home to the Upper Valley.  It would be hard not to enjoy this day.  It was full on spring and, I am pretty sure this is true everywhere, was plain old beautiful.

Turkeys and Culverts

Driving home on this beautiful spring evening I saw a turkey prancing its way across our neighbor’s exquisitely mowed lawn.  It made me wonder if any turkeys were at our place.  They haven’t been around much these days.  I was afraid they would eat the freshly planted peas.  Didn’t happen and I’m glad of it.

After I passed the trotting bird I looked across the field on the other side of the road.  I could see all the way to the river to where the one lane bridge crosses it.  Along the road I saw some dark objects.  Having just seen a turkey, the first thing I imagined was that those dark objects must be turkeys.  Except they were perfectly lined up, tucked into the side of the road.  And they were perfectly round.  Not turkeys.

It turns out they were culverts, which I figured out just by letting my brain get over its immediate assumptions.  Haste makes waste there, Brain!  Trucks have been in and out the past few days hauling dirt and gravel and all kinds of other stuff, like long steel corrugated tubes.  Next to the bridge, where the road sometimes floods, the town crew raised the road and tucked culverts underneath to let the water flow.  Smart.

Next month I will plant corn.  Last year the turkeys pulled it all up.  Twice.  Once I plant again I bet they will come back around.  They figure these things out.  Call them turkeys if you will but they are crafty bastards.  Smart.  They will be back to get my corn again.  You can bet on that.  Unless they are too distracted by the culverts to remember.  Could happen.  But I won’t plan on it.

Apple Tree

We inherited an old apple tree when we moved into this house.  The previous owner told us that it never bore fruit.  It blossomed each spring but no apples appeared.  The first fall we were here, a couple of years ago, I pruned that baby good.  I cut lots of wood from it and, behold, we had apples the next year.

We had a lot of apples this fall.  Too many, in fact.  I haven’t gotten the equipment to make applesauce or cider or to can what I might make.  Part of the challenge is that apples are Red Delicious.  They are tasty, but they do not ripen until October.  Maybe in September we will get a few, but we have a narrow window between ripe and hard frost to get to them.  It just doesn’t happen as well as I’d like.

Recently, I was listening to The Splendid Table, a program on Vermont Public Radio.  The hosts were talking about apples, since this is the season, and they dissed the Red Delicious.  Granted, I would agree with them if they were referring to the mushy and sort-of sweet Red Delicious that gets piled up in supermarkets and whose silhouette has become the symbol of appleness.  But the apples on our tree (once they finally get ripe) are way sweeter and juicier than those sad pretenders.  I was sorry to hear them put down a variety in its entirety.  Those fruitists!

We have a flock of wild turkeys that like to hang around here.  These days they can be found late in the day and early in the morning, those crepuscular hours when the light is muted, bobbing about under the apple tree, poking at the drops.  They have gotten a few meals there.  I don’t begrudge them, especially when they snack on the mealy ones taken over by worms.  They can have those.  Plus, those ugly drops keep them from flapping into the branches and taking the good ones.

I will take some time to prune the tree this fall or perhaps in the first days of spring.  We will get more apples next spring I am sure.  What I need to do is plant a couple more trees, give us some species variety, as well as an earlier crop.   It would be nice to count on having some apples in September.  And we should get our hands in a cider press, have a good old fashioned cider pressing party.

That would make those late apples, even the ones that might not offer their full flavor, well worth it.  I don’t care what reputation Red Delicious may have.