About 6 o'clock last night, the phone rang. It was Debbie, the former dog walker (and doesn't the word "former" here make you sad?), calling from down the street. "I just saw a wild turkey fly onto my neighbor's roof!" she said. "It was still there when I drove away. Go see! Bring your camera!"
And so I, in sweatpants and house slippers, grabbed the camera and headed for the door. Doug was walking Boscoe over in the park; Riley tried to slip out behind me but I knew that a wild turkey wouldn't stick around very long, on a roof or anywhere else, with Riley barking at it. I callously shut the door on him and set off down the chilly street.
At first I thought I was too late. The sun was starting to set, the light was dim, and the house on the corner was surrounded by big oak trees, their tangled branches obscuring whatever might be on the roof. And then I saw it move. Man, it was big! It looked slightly confused as to what it was doing up there--it marched back and forth, along the edge along the gutter. It hid behind a dormer and peeked out around the side (a fetching pose, I thought).
I noticed lights on in the upper rooms, and I hoped that the neighbors, who I only slightly knew, wouldn't think I was trying to photograph them in their bedroom. A face appeared at the window, and the person inside made an elaborate pointing-upward gesture, up toward the bird on his roof, and I knew he knew why I was there. I waved, I took a few pictures, I attempted to capture the turkey on digital video, and then I trotted home again to get Doug. A turkey on the roof of the corner house deserves to be shared, just as Debbie shared it with me.
Doug and Boscoe were back; they had seen an eagle swooping overhead on their earlier walk, flying so low they could hear the beating of the wings, so I knew he'd be hard to impress. But a wild turkey might just do it. "Come see!" I said. Doug looked dubious, but off we went, back down the sidewalk to the house on the corner.
But when we got there, the turkey was gone. There was nothing on the roof but a few dead oak leaves and some twigs that had blown down from the tree. I was dismayed. "It was just here!" I said. "Walking around! I can't believe it's gone."
"Yeah, right," Doug said.
A face appeared at the upstairs window again. The neighbor again made elaborate pointing gestures--not straight up, this time, but off to the right, toward that big oak tree. We squinted through the branches and sure enough, there it was, hopping around on the branches, trying to find a place to settle in for the night.
A lovely end to October, I think, which has been a lovely month of sunshine and birds--the eagles we saw Up North, the ducks on Como Lake, the turkey who graced us with his presence while looking for a place to roost.
Onward, to November. The months for a while now will be dark and cold. But if we take the time to look, if we listen to our neighbors, if we keep our eyes open, we can find grace.