Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Talkin’ Turkey

It was late evening as I walked out on the wide iron-red porch of the trading post to enjoy the golden autumn sunset. Fall is my favorite event here in Bluff. This year the season has stretched into late November, and, if we are very lucky, into early December. In our small, protected, high desert river valley we are blessed with enhanced, often exaggerated, seasons.

The gnarled and twisted limbs of the cottonwood trees stubbornly hang onto their bright yellow leaves; like overprotective, jealous guardians. Eventually the frosty north winds of winter will dip into our sheltered cove and tear them from the trees' selfish grasp. But not today! The circulating current of air was more than tolerable with just a hint of crispness to it. The breeze smelled and felt exhilaratingly refreshing.

I sat on the warm sunbathed concrete steps and looked to the south. Backlit by the rosy red cliffs, the cottonwoods, with their heavily textured trunks and bouquets of turned foliage, were lit up with an intensely rich glow. The slanting sunlight was filtering through the semitransparent leaves, and putting on a light show that was well worth the time to sit and watch.

At times like these when my mind and body relax the most, I find a place of less stress and anxiety, allowing the pleasures of sensation free reign. As I sat there easing my mind, I glimpsed movement to my right, over near the layered and stacked base of the Twin Rocks. Something had spooked a Merriam Turkey from behind the rocks, and the wild thing was beating a hasty retreat towards the river.

The bird was flying at a high rate of speed about ten feet off the ground, right across the parking lot in front of me. It was a large, full-bodied turkey with heavy plumage; I guessed it to be a tom. Its homely head was bright red and stretched far out ahead of its much larger body.

The dispersed sunlight washed over the bird, setting off the dark brown feathers tinged with gold. The white tipped tail feathers pointed straight back looking much like the back end of a lighted rocket. I could hear the turkey’s wings beating furiously at the evening air. In a flash, the creature was gone over the highway and hayfield to the dense tamarisk bordering the river.

I thought of how the Navajo believe that the turkey is a savior of sorts. When the people were forced from the previous world by Water Creature's great flood, it was Turkey who thought clearly. Making his way to the granary, Turkey carefully placed two of each seed on the feathers of his body. Thus, heavily burdened, Turkey made his way to the growing reed; an escape route provided by two men who would one day become Sun and Moon.

The encroaching waters lapped at Turkey's backside all the way to the reed, causing his tail feathers to be forever white as a reminder of his heroism. Turkey was the last one into the reed, barely making his escape. The seeds Turkey made off with provided the people an opportunity to grow and prosper upon their emergence into this world. Turkey had saved the day, ensuring a future to the Navajo.

Sighing and smiling inwardly, I thought to myself how beautiful and amazing the sight I had just witnessed had been. The sun sank lower on the horizon and the shadows grew longer and deeper. I forced myself up and off the porch, it was time to close the trading post and head up the highway to my warm, comfortable home and family. Life is good here at the base of the Twin Rocks; good indeed.

With warm regards,
Barry, Steve, and the Team

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