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  • Writer's picturePenny Harter


Wishing a very Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family! Last night I watched on “Nature” a program about a man who imprinted with a flock of wild turkeys, starting when they emerged from their shells. I learned so much about them—how smart they are, how individual, and how different they are from the turkeys we domesticate for food. He became one of them, communicated by learning their language—their calls and what each meant. He emphasized that they taught him to live in the moment, not in the past or future, one grasshopper at a time—and that love can cross species.

I’m sharing for this Thanksgiving Day a haibun I wrote and probably also shared last year on 11/20. May we all learn how to live gratefully, to count our blessings every day and love well. ________________

Turkey Crossing

Two different flocks of wild turkeys scuttle across the country road, running from one patch of woods and field to another. A few are white with black stripes almost like zebras, others with feathers from brown to grey, black to rust.

Here and there, a hunter’s empty pickup hugs the roadside. Most deer I’m seeing these autumn dusks are small ones, appear less afraid than their mothers who have probably been killed. This is also turkey-hunting season.

There are myths about white turkeys—some say they gave fire to Native Americans by shaking off their colored feathers, or that they gave us corn.

smoke-white turkey fading into twilight mist— litter of oak leaves

Here and there one bird is solo, but most move together, a community. Sometimes they congregate on the ample still-green lawn of a house set back in the woods. Deer do that, too. Perhaps they feel safer there than in the woods where the hunters are stalking.

construction paper turkeys and pilgrim hats on classroom windows

Remembered hymns echo in the chancel of my skull. I hum them as I ride between the autumn trees, many half bare already, into the country of night.

We gather together / to ask the Lord’s blessing . . . Come ye thankful people come / sing the song of harvest home . . .

Now the light’s too dim to see deer or turkeys hiding in tangles of laurel and thorny shrubs, or lost among tall grass in rapidly darkening fields. But I know they are there, going about their nocturnal lives, and I give thanks.

this holiday season— hard to count our blessings, and yet . . .

(c) 2020 Penny Harter

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