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Wild Turkey

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Camus, the existentialist writer, held to the notion that life is absurd, yet we must confront absurdity with courage and dignity.


For the following, I blame the dog.

It was she who ran off the trail into the bushes, a moment later racing down the hill, a turkey in fast pursuit. My husband and I laughed until the turkey, wings flared, turned her attention to me, a much slower target.

It is absurd to be chased by a very large bird.


I wasn't courageous. Nor was I dignified. Camus may not have known it, but if he were around today I'd like to share with him that it's very difficult to appear dignified while running for your life. The three of us, the dog, me, the turkey, tore down the hill in single file, in memory a comic tableau, though at the time not amusing. Turkeys in pursuit are fast, persistent. Perhaps the dog had found her nest: the mother instinct, especially in feathered dinosaurs, is fierce. Ultimately, the gobbler gave up the chase, no doubt satisfied that she had 'reminded' us whose turf we'd violated.

Camus also mused, "Look deep into nature and then you will be able to understand everything better." It's a lovely sentiment, though one the dog does not subscribe to, her unfortunate skirmish firmly imprinted on her brain. 

Now the dog sports a citronella collar and stays by our side. Today when we encounter a flock of the big birds, which are abundant in the foothills, our canine quickly turns her head and walks on, pretending she never saw them. If I can't see them, sheseems to think, they most certainly can't see me.

Absurdist? You bet. But a practical response that works. I don't blame her. Like the dog, I have a new-found respect for gobblers.  Camus might agree that if anyone has a right to partake of a turkey dinner this Thanksgiving, that would be me. He might also delight in the fact that our feathered foe chose to chase a vegetarian.

With a Perspective, this is Judie Rae.

Judie Rae teaches college English and is a freelance writer. She lives in Nevada City. 

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