The Turkeys Grew Up

This summer, when we visited Grandma and Grandpa at Goose Hill Farm, you could hold the baby turkeys in your hands. The boys took charge of feeding them and locking them up for the night to protect them from the hawks and other wild animals prowling for meat in the dark.

Now visiting for Thanksgiving, the turkeys have grown waist-high. They are cautious, but curious. The male leads the females up to the kitchen windows, and they peer in at us from so close you can see the short hair on their heads. There are shades of pinks and light blue in the male turkey’s face. He struts and fluffs his tail feathers, a hundred different browns.

Abandoning her flock hiding from the snow, the only white chicken comes adventuring with the turkeys. We are told she prefers them and follows them around like a little sister. “Hey, wait for me!” Shorter legs racing to keep up.

But with “Turkey Day” only two days away, we expected this crew to be gone. Isn’t that the turkey’s sad story in all the picture books? In fact, for third graders at our sons’ school, the Thanksgiving homework is to take a cut-out paper turkey and “disguise” it so that it does not become part of the feast. Using any mix of materials and creativity, the kids dress their turkeys as football players, clowns, pilgrims, lions, mermaids and more.

Our youngest disguised his as a tomato plant. Very unusual and sneaky.

But the three Goose Hill turkeys don’t need a disguise. They are members of the family this Thanksgiving: the crazy uncle with warts on his nose, the cousin wobbling around the table after too much wine, and the vegetarian sister who every year, loudly mourns the poor bird.

Dragonflies and Chicken Parts

There is a dragonfly in my freezer.

At the school my sons attend, the infamous “bug project” gets assigned in fifth or sixth grade. Every child is expected to build a collection of dead bugs, pin them to poster board and then do a presentation.

Some kids have the advantage of having scientists or outdoorsmen as parents. Some have mountain homes where I swear the bugs are significantly larger. Others will travel to exotic places and then illegally smuggle equally exotic insects back in their suitcases. My kids will benefit from none of that. And I don’t like bugs.

So yesterday, when I walked outside to pick up the Sunday paper and saw a perfect dragonfly upside-down on the sidewalk, I put it in a sandwich bag and stuck it in the freezer.

It only twitched once.

What my kids will benefit from is a mother who starts early. They are in third and fourth grade. Which means, I have a dragonfly in my freezer now for at least a year and a half.

I have since been bemoaning the fact that science teachers seem to enjoy coming up with projects that drive mothers crazy. This year, my son claims he will get to touch a human brain.

And there’s a dragonfly taking up freezer space.

Then I remembered my third grade science teacher. We dissected chickens, and then had Charlie’s Special (which is chicken chow mein) for school lunch. And the best thing was… we got to bring home chicken parts – gizzards and hearts and tracheas and legs and whatever we wanted.

Our garage smelled for months.

And I thought, my mom put up with smelly chicken parts for me. The least I can do is stash a dragonfly in my freezer.