Posted by: deadmousediaries | April 29, 2015

News from the Path Valley Hotel, Episode #79: Let’s Talk Turkey

Spring finally has her foothold at the Path Valley Hotel. She arrived with her usual entourage of buds, bugs and and birds. The big toad has returned to my back porch and he and the spiders are already on the lurk for lunch on the go. The spring peepers serenade me nightly from the damp leaves near the run. The treeline is starting to blush with American Redbud.

The little wrens that rebuild every year under my porch eaves flit back and forth and torture The Boys, my three cats who sit on the windowsills and bark and chatter with an annoying pane of glass between them. The cardinals still sing what-cheer, what-cheer, birdie-birdie-birdie but their songs are punctuated now by the drilling of a bold and splashy pileated woodpecker who locks on to the side of the hardwoods like an expert lumberjack. He annoys the dogs.

Spring’s opening ceremonies became complete on Monday with an early morning call from another arrival. I didn’t see him but his message was clear: I’m here, I’m near and I’m in the mood for love. Gobble. Gobble. Gobble-gobble.

When Doug and I first moved into the PVH more than 35 years ago, we were entertained most of the summer by two turkey hens and their broods. We could hear them talking to their kids as they scratched their way down the driveway outside our bedroom window. The house had been empty for a long time before we moved in so it was apparent that we were the guests at that location, not them. As long as we were quiet, they weren’t disturbed and we didn’t have to leave the house or pull out the binoculars to watch the poults grow.

A few years later, a young jake settled into a white oak outside that same window. When we pulled out of the driveway that first morning, we stopped and ogled, assuming that once he had seen us, that would be the last we would see of him. Wrong. Apparently, he liked it there and that became a problem.

On the chance you don’t know, jakes are young, male turkeys.They may be inexperienced but in the spring, they are as anxious for love as the dominant toms (Translation: They get stupid.) I’m not sure what his mama had taught him about love’s tender calls, or how to deter an invading suitor, but he had trouble getting it right.

He roosted there for more than a week but was most interested in the tractor trailers and logging trucks that roared down the valley in the dark. I never knew turkeys would sound off at night but he was clearly enamored. His strangled attempt at gobbling was both pitiful and annoying and if the traffic was heavy, it was hard to ignore.

One night it was suddenly quiet and we knew he was gone. We never knew if he had been lured deeper into the woods by a hen in full flirt or had been slapped between two slices of bread with a little mayo. Maybe he had found another soul mate, one named Mack — or possibly Peterbilt.

With this kind of history, you can understand why I was so excited the day I saw a wild turkey roaming the back parking lot at McDonald’s. Apparently he was a frequent flyer for nearby residents who spotted him regularly, but for me it was a thrill to see a turkey strolling into view while I munched my value meal.

What’s the first thing you want to do when you see something like that? Call someone! And I did. I got my husband on the phone.

Doug was an experienced outdoorsman and he assured me my turkey was ready to talk; all I needed to do was start the conversation. I knew that talkin’ turkey meant you might need to yelp, putt or purr as well as gobble so I listened to his instructions carefully.

I guess I got lost in the adventure (Translation: I got stupid.) because everything around me faded. It was just me, Doug and the turkey. When I had finally coaxed the turkey to stop and look my direction, I let loose with my very best gobble, a performance that rivals a a full-body heave when executed with enthusiasm. I guess that’s the reason the pros use manufactured turkey calls.

My strategy worked on one level. I managed to get the complete attention of all the other people in the parking lot who were being entertained by the woman on the phone talkin’ turkey, the woman wearing a suit and driving a car bearing a huge company logo.

I’m not ashamed; I’m happy that I did it. I’m still talking turkey, sometimes now in my pajamas. It all makes for other great stories. As the former talking head for my employer, the person for whom positive management of the company’s reputation was an actual objective, I will admit I’m happy the McDonald’s incident happened in the days before we were all armed with cameras on our cell phones. I’m sure I’d be a hit on YouTube. But then again, that might have compensated for my ensuing unemployment.



  1. Love reading that spring is coming to PVH!! Finally……we all need these morsels of life after a long, cold, cold winter. And I’d love to hear you talk turkey any time you want!! I giggled trying to envision the scene!!!

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