The weather in Bear River is almost always different than it is in town, especially during the summer. When I leave the house at 7 a.m. it is usually bright, sunny and warm, and I’m usually in short sleeves and flip flops. A half-hour later, mid-way through the descent down Wildcat Road, I realize that I’ve again dressed completely inappropriately as it’s foggy and drippy and remains that way through the rest of my commute into Eureka.
The ride home is exactly the opposite. It’s a glorious moment when I turn onto Bear River Ridge Road and the sky cracks open to reveal a bright blue without a cloud in sight.
The other day as I turned onto the ridge and looked down into the Eel River Valley I had to stop and get out of the car just so I didn’t run off the road. I was standing in sunlight, but the fog was creeping in from the coast and over the trees. It reminded me of the winter ocean in its eerie beauty, and I just had to get a picture.
I got back in the car and continued on my journey across the ridge. Suddenly right in front of me was something I’d never encountered there before: a giant turkey. I see lots of turkeys here in the valley, but not like this one. The wild turkeys are thin and nondescript. They wander around in large groups and always run away when anyone goes near them. This turkey was different. It was big, fleshy – even flashy with its bright red….well…thing on its neck. You know what I’m talking about.
What really set this turkey apart, though, was his attitude. He stood there in front of my car glaring at me. Then he let out a loud, “Ggggooooobbbbbble!” I’m sure he meant to have an exclamation mark on the end.
I thought he was adorable. I grabbed my camera and rolled down the window to capture him in all his turkey cuteness. It was then that he ran over and started trying to peck my arm. I screamed and rolled up the window quickly as he continued to yell at me. “Gobble. Gobble. Gobble!” He then started pecking at the window. I thought he was going to break it he was hitting it so hard with his beak.
I stepped on the gas a little bit to try to get away from him, and he moved out of the way. As I stepped on it harder I heard a loud thunk coming from the back. The damn bird was trying to jump onto the back of my big boxy Element. He was squawking and flapping his wings and pecking the back window as hard as he could. When I stopped, he ran to my side of the car and began pecking at the window again. When I tried to go, he moved to the back and repeated the same bad behavior. I was too afraid to go faster because I didn’t want to hurt him. I was too afraid to get out of my car and shoo him away because of the visions of missing eyeballs and bloody stumps. So I rolled down the window a tiny bit to try to reason with him.
“Listen, ” I began. “I’m really sorry about the whole Thanksgiving thing. It started a long time before me. Remember that year I tried to go vegetarian and went with a tofu version ? With the gross cashew gravy? Don’t I get some points for that?”
He was not impressed.
“Okay..this year…I’m going with chicken. Trust me. You and your kinfolk are safe. You can go pick on someone else now.”
He seemed even more agitated than before and tried even harder to stick his sharp beak through the crack in the window. There was only one thing left to say.
“Turkey. I’m really sorry about this, but get the fuck out of my way.”
I stepped on the gas as hard as I could, praying that I wasn’t running over his skinny little turkey feet and leaving him in a cloud of dirt.
Fifty or so feet later I stopped and looked behind me in the mirror. There he still stood in the middle of the road looking extremely flummoxed, and I could hear his faint gobble in the distance. I picked up my camera and took this really poor shot through the window.
Just as the shutter clicked he started running toward the back of my car again, and he wasn’t limping a bit, the little bastard.