Friday, November 30, 2007

Turkey Day

Wayne said I have to stop just for a few minutes prior to packing the whole house and describe the play for which I was the sole audience member, performed in the kitchen the day before Thanksgiving.
There were two characters, a turkey and an Indian. The turkey wore soft felt slippers with gold socks pulled over them, and tail feathers constructed ingeniously out of two sticks, poking from back pockets in opposing directions (are you following this?), draped with brown faux-suede and topped off with two real turkey feathers. A red hat on top. My children - perhaps all children - are masters of the expressionist gesture. A few indications, and they can give a pretty convincing caricature.
The performance began with the turkey doing a gobbling, laughing song and a funny little dance. Then the Indian appeared. She had a bereft and perhaps hungry appearance, with a long shawl and a single (turkey) feather poking up from her hair; she sang a melancholy Indian song, then entered her lodge, which caused the cardboard front wall to fall down like a flat, perfectly exposing the Indian tapping the side of her big iron cooking pot with a stick, to indicate stirring over the fire.
Suddenly the Indian gave chase, the turkey ran through the dining room for its life, and as they re-emerged through the far door to the kitchen, the Indian snapped a little balloon on her stick and the turkey fell down dead. That, of course, was the end.
Did you know that two hours north of Manhattan there are herds of wild turkeys in the woods? We've seen flocks of turkey in Oklahoma, with long legs, sharp spurs and warty faces, running like ostriches; you can see their direct link to the dinosaurs. The New York variety are a more genteel sort, resembling the one on the Southern Comfort bottle: gentlemen poking their way, hands behind backs, through woods that belong to them. The first Sunday of Advent, we had just closed on the house, and I ran over after church to harvest branches from the big blue spruce outside the front door, for wreath-making. We dropped by the house again to put the finished wreaths in the barn, making room in the car for Wayne's luggage, as we were on our way to Hudson to pick him up at the train. Snow was falling - first snow - and I heard some scrabbling down in the little woods behind the barn; I looked down and it was a flock of black turkeys, and I caught my breath.


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