The Great Turkey Chase

It was the perfect Monday morning.  Monday is college t-shirt day at my school, meaning I didn’t even have to play Closet Showdown with all my clothes that I currently don’t fit into.  I grabbed my jeans and tugged my red alma mater t-shirt over my head.  I didn’t even care about my hair because it was going under my bike helmet anyway.

It was such the perfect morning that just as Magnolia True and I were about to turn onto the street my school is on, I Believe in a Thing Called Love by The Darkness came up on my playlist.  If there’s a better song to ride to in the morning, I haven’t found it.  I push the pedals a little harder and may or may not play air guitar on my handlebars during the guitar solo.  I’m less embarrassed about that than I should be, especially since my school is in a suburban neighborhood and I pass scads of parents and students in their cars every morning.

The street my school is on is all downhill on my commute to work.  I love this because it means I arrive to work mostly unsweaty and on my way home I stomp the pedals all the way up the hill.

So there I was cruising downhill to school singing along.

“I believe in a thing called love.  Just listen to the rhythm of my heart.  I believe we can make it, love.  We’ll be rockin’ ’til the sun goes do-“

That’s when I saw it.

A turkey.

A giant, wild turkey strutting in a driveway to my right.  He was at least as tall as my bike wheels and he was all alone, which as you may have guessed isn’t a sign of a well-balanced turkey.

I believe I’ve mentioned my fear of birds before.  So upon seeing this terrifying bird, I let a string of profanity fly.  I’ll let you Mad Lib this one and insert your own avalanche of profanity on my behalf here:

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After I said a few choice words, I prayed the turkey wouldn’t see me because a 6 foot tall woman in a bright red shirt blasting The Darkness on a bicycle can be stealthy, right?

Right?

Wrong.

As I passed by the turkey, he looked right at me, a sinister look from the depths of Hades.

“I don’t want any trouble,” I told him as came to be even with driveway that was apparently HIS TERRITORY.

I was riding as far away from the driveway as I could without veering into oncoming traffic, which, in hindsight, may have been preferable to what was about to happen.

The turkey made a beeline for me.

I uttered some more choice words and kicked my pedaling into high gear.

I could hear the turkeys devil claws scrabbling on the asphalt behind me.

I looked back only once.

The bird was gaining on me.

I pedaled harder, sweat dripping down my face, and went into a tuck-which looks absolutely ridiculous on a cruiser bike.

I prayed that the turkey wouldn’t take flight because my bike helmet might stand up to those horrid talons, but surely my red t-shirt wouldn’t.

Did you know that red is known to incite fury in birds?  I didn’t find out that useful nugget of information until much later that day.

I ripped down the hill and careened into my school parking lot where I didn’t stop pedaling, not even across the playground, until I reached the safety of my classroom door.  My heart was playing a crazy game of Frogger in my chest and my hair, which wasn’t great to begin with, was now a sweaty, sopping mess.

To my great relief, I’d lost the turkey somewhere on the hill.  Of equal relief was that I had not peed my pants while he was in pursuit.  Small victories.

I haven’t seen the turkey since that day, but I did receive this card a few weeks later from one of my little ones.

The feathers are from a turkey she hunted with her dad.  Coincidence?  I think not.

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Take that, turkey.  You’d better think twice before you mess with me.  I may be terrified of you, but I know a six-year-old little girl who isn’t.  Consider yourself warned.

Things I Learned Last Week

I’m reading “Living the Questions: A Guide for Teacher-Researchers”.  (Don’t worry, it’s way better than it sounds.)  And no, this isn’t another post about teaching.  Anyway, I’m responsible for reading chapter 4 in the next couple of weeks.  I had every intention of just skipping ahead to chapter 4, but in the same way that I can’t jump into a novel at chapter 4, I can’t just skip over the first 3 chapters.  The authors put them there for a reason, right?  So this afternoon I was reading the first chapter and stumbled across this odd little poem:

Things I Learned Last Week

by William Stafford

Ants, when they meet each other, usually pass on the right.

Sometimes you can open a sticky door with your elbow.

A man in Boston has dedicated himself to telling about injustice.  For three thousand dollars he will come to your town to tell you about it.

Schopenhauer was a pessimist, but he played the flute.

Yeats, Pound, and Eliot saw art as growing from other art. They studied that.

If I ever die, I’d like it to be in the evening. That way, I’ll have all the dark to go with me, and no one will see how I begin to hobble along.

In The Pentagon one person’s job is to take pins out of towns, hills, and fields, and then save the pins for later.

Naturally, I had to stop reading chapter 1 and create one of my own because if I didn’t, I’d never get the image of ants passing on the right out of my head.  And then there would simply be no chance of ever making it to chapter 4 because I’d be thinking about those darn ants all day.

Things I Learned Last Week

by: Alicia McCauley

Birds automatically empty their waste before taking off in flight, so it’s nothing personal when I leave my front door and the birds living in my Morning Glory let fly as I run in terror.

Sticks and stones may break bones, but words can pierce the heart.  And there’s no cast to fix that kind of injury.

The kid who one day only produces a title and two words of the first sentence is the same kid who will crank out two pages the next day and run up to me beaming, “Mrs. McCauley, you just gotta read this!”

The old movie theater now only costs $1 on Tuesdays.  Tuesday nights just got a whole lot more interesting.

Splitting and doubling down are not the same thing.  At all.

For the bargain price of $900, 24 friends and I will be spending the night at the planetarium and environmental camp.  This is the same camp I attended in 5th grade where I was mistaken for a boy.  Let the PTSD flashbacks commence.

Before you go, I’m curious to know what you learned last week.  So go ahead and drop some nuggets of newfound knowledge in the comments section.  Now I have to go make a sugar trail in my kitchen and observe the traveling etiquette of ants.

Bird Therapy

Okay, it’s been long enough that I can write about this with a mix of humor and terror, instead of just sheer terror.

To begin with, I know nothing about babies.  It’s important that I state that for the record right up front.  I will probably always know nothing about babies because this area right here is a Baby-Free Zone.

Anyway, I have friends with babies and they read books about babies and stuff.  There is a book out that says if you swaddle, (gently) shake, and shush your baby when it cries, the baby will be happy.  In fact, the baby will be the happiest baby on the block, although I’m not entirely sure how that is determined.  Do they line up all the babies on the block and compare them to see which one smiles the widest?  That seems weird to me, but again, I know nothing about babies.

What I do know is that when I am upset, shaking (no matter how gently) does not make me feel better.  Also, shushing me when I’m crying is a mistake that is not going to end well for anyone involved.  As for swaddling, I haven’t tried that because Redding is just too hot to swaddle or be swaddled.  For the record Terry also does not like being shaken or shushed when he is upset.  Not that I tried it or anything.

At any rate the swaddle, shake and shush theory was fresh in my mind when we went to Mexico last month.  We went to the most lovely resort with so many swimming pools that I needed extra fingers to count them on.  It also had a private beach and it was on said beach that I found out parrots also do not care for being shushed.

Throughout our stay at the resort we saw photographers wandering around taking pictures of people with various animals.  One day there were incredible iguanas.  Another day there were cute little spider monkeys.  And then there were the parrots.  Hang on a sec, I just need to take a deep breath and go to my happy place.

Okay.

It is no secret that I am terrified of birds.  We have a history.  Birds like to poop on me, pull my hair and wreak havoc on me in general.  I won’t even talk about the birds who nest by my front door each spring and buzz the tower whenever I try to enter/exit my own house.  Or the turkey vultures that nearly made me pee my bike shorts.  Horrifying, absolutely horrifying.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh, yes, the beautiful private beach.  So there we were relaxing on the beach when I spotted the photographer and his assistant walking towards us with two giant parrots.  The blood drained from my face and sweat trickled out of my armpits.

“Let’s have our picture taken with the birds!” said Terry, who knows I am terrified of birds.

“No. Way. In. Hell.”  I shook my head as the photographer walked closer.

“Please, honey, do it for me.”  Terry begged.

“Senorita, would you like your picture with the parrots?” asked the photographer.  He might as well have asked if I’d like a pap smear.

“No.  Tengo miedo.” I replied.

Roughly translated, that means “No.  All birds are in a conspiracy against me and they’ve found me here to peck me to death starting with my eyes.”

Okay, maybe it just means “No.  I’m afraid.”

“Tienes miedo de los pajaros?” The photographer and his assistant started laughing so hard that I think they actually cried.  Terry may or may not have been laughing with them.  I’m not entirely sure because I was keeping my eye on the birds.

“C’mon, honey, do it for my birthday.” said Terry, who never asks for anything.  Terry had his picture taken with the birds perched on his shoulders.

“Senorita, c’mon.  Take your picture with the birds.” coaxed the photographer’s assistant.

“Come on, honey.  These are nice birds.” said Terry, holding one of the parrots in his arms like a baby.

I edged over next to Terry.  And then the assistant put one of the parrots on my shoulder.  My bare shoulder that only had a bathing suit strap around it.  The bird claws were touching my skin!  My actual skin!

My shoulders shot to my ears and my head shot backwards, giving me no less than 19 chins.  Very attractive, I’m sure.

“Relax your shoulders, senorita.” the photographer said trying to get a decent shot.

I could not relax my shoulders.  A giant parrot was on me.

“Saca la foto.”  I screeched from between the gritted teeth of my nervous smile.

The bird inched closer to my head and began to caw in my ear.  My happy place was nowhere to be found.

“Relax, senorita.”

The bird began to caw louder, more insistently.  Trying to remain calm and not think of how this bird was obviously seconds away from pecking through my skull down to my brain, I thought about that baby book.

“Shhhh, shhhhh, shhhhhhh.” I shushed the parrot while trying to smile at the camera.  The bird moved closer and put its beak into my hair.

“Saca la foto!!!  SACA LA FOTO!!!”  I shrieked as fear ran all prickly through my veins.  The bird cawed louder.

“Shh, shhh, shhhh,” I said trying to calm the bird and myself.

There may have been some shouting next.  Okay, there was definitely shouting.

“SACA LA FOTO!!!  SACA LA FOTO!!!!”  I implored the photographer, who was barely able to take the picture because he was shaking so hard from laughter.

Finally the photographer had the shots he wanted.  Okay, not the shots he wanted, but shots nonetheless.  The assistant removed the bird from my shoulder.

I walked over to where we’d previously been blissfully reading on the beach.  The assistant followed me with the parrot on his arm.

“Senorita, pet the bird.”  I shook my head.

“It will be like bird therapy.” He placed my hand on the bird and ran it up and down the parrot’s back a few times.  After the assistant was sufficiently convinced that I was no longer afraid, they took the parrots down the beach where other people were overjoyed to have their pictures taken with such majestic creatures.

I remain terrified of birds, possibly even more terrified than before.  But I have learned two important lessons:

1. Parrots do not like to be shushed.

2. The photographer’s assistant was right.  I need therapy.