I have been walking the roads of Austerlitz for about 15 years, dirt roads, paved back roads and state highways. “Watch out on those highways. The trucks will mow you down.” People said. Others warned of drunk drivers, distracted drivers, dogs and bears. “You never know.” "They don't slow down."
Today, I had my comeuppance.
I chose to walk a couple miles on State Route 203, a mile up hill and a mile down. It was Saturday morning. I didn’t expect much traffic. In fact, there wasn’t any- well one car swerved to avoid a turkey on the road about a quarter mile ahead of me. The driver maintained control, missed the turkey and waved to me as she drove by.
It was windy, so I pulled the hood up on my lime green sweatshirt. I knew drivers could see me coming when I was dressed like that.
I walked the quarter of a mile. Suddenly, without any warning, I felt a push on my right leg, and a slight pain. I turned quickly and was nose to beak with that turkey. Tom had been lying in wait for me. He danced away as I turned. Rose up about three feet off the ground. On landing displayed his lush tail feathers. Even flared his nostrils, and came after me again.
He brushed my leg. I stood as tall as I could, waved my arms. He backed off, but not completely. I tried again to wave him off. Again that worked for about ten seconds. It was a matter of time before he might finally corral me. More tail feather display. Beautiful in a way, but not then.
I saw some free standing mailboxes on the side of the road. Round and round we went for almost ten minutes. Tom smart enough to try to come from the opposite direction in which I was rotating, a game I often play at home with my grandson or the cat. It was a frightening dance. This bird didn’t like me, ME.
A neighbor, Jake, came from the house across the street. He picked up a stick and tried to rescue me by talking to the bird and distracting it. “Your shirt seems to be upsetting him,” he said. When I found a chance, I pulled the shirt off, waved it at the bird, and tossed it near him. This Tom was single minded. After a brief nod toward the shirt, he came after me again. Jake handed me back my shirt. I waved it at the bird which was just leery enough to back off a bit, and eventually, he retreated to the opposite side of the road, always out of reach of the waving shirt, but constantly stepping back towards me if I let the shirt down. Fortunately, the state highway was trafficless.
We continued to parry along the side of the road, the turkey feinting, drawing back, moving in, bobbing out. This had been about fifteen minutes. Jake went to his garage to get his car to perhaps frighten this deranged free ranger. A horn tooted. It was a sheriff’s car. The deputy sheriff in the car easily forced the turkey to back off. I didn’t wait around. I walked quickly, noticed that Tom was not ready to give up. I did a trot, the turkey trot, for about 100 feet, before I looked back again. I wasn’t convinced. I trotted a little further.
The deputy caught up to me near the end of my walk. “Did he attack you?” "Well, yeah…for no reason.”
I learned that it was possible that the bird had been rehabbed and had not the normal fear of people. When I went to the dedication of the new fire house, the deputy was there. He had told the story, and I came to tell the rest of the story. Some had called 911 about my situation. I wonder how that went. “There’s a man on the road being attacked by a turkey. It’s a real brawl. The turkey won’t give up, the man’s is barely able to hold his own.” It wasn’t an 18 wheeler, whew.
I think I'll roast a turkey to celebrate.