Most mornings I wake to some sound intruding upon a dream I would rather finish. Normally, it is an alarm, sometimes it a car going by – a driver on his or her way to work. This morning I was awakened by a sound like mice crawling behind my head, in the warren of nooks and crannies that make up the walls of my house. Dismissing it at first, I was unable to go back to sleep as the sound persisted. I peered out my second floor window and saw two black birds hopping up and down on the electric wire that runs into my eaves, already far along in the steps of their mating dance, and certainly oblivious to the fact that with every hop on that wire, their dance was echoing through my house.

I guess it was a day for sounds. Winter, the silent hugger, retreated in a matter of hours to be replaced by a fury of natural activity. None was more impressive than the geese heading north who use the swamps and rivers around my house as a rest stop and staging area before any further flights.

They sound and look like an army. A few sentry geese go flying overhead, turning circles about the house. They are scouting a good pooping patch somewhere on my lawn for the rest of their noisy horde, I think. Flocks of eighty to ninety birds go flying by in tight formation. Their honks are trumpets sounding out calls, old friends meeting again, asking how the winter has gone. Maybe they are already scouting out their newest mates, the girls talking about the guys behind their wings. They land with a flutter in the water, and begin dipping their long necks in unison into the muddy bottoms.

I truly enjoy the geese. They make me laugh with their proud honks, their curious waddles, and their excitement for spring. They also remind me that it is time for me to stir from my own hibernation and begin my daily running again.

Halfway through my running, near the base of a hill that I use as a mile marker, I saw three turkeys, roosting in trees. My footsteps frightened them out of their lofty perches.

I never knew turkeys could fly (I don’t remember who told me that wives’ tale!) until I was hunting them last year. Imagine my surprise when I went stalking up on them, cornering them in what I thought was a nice tight corner. I was certain I would get my first turkey. But they ran, jumped, and began flying away over the tall scrub bushes that were meant to be my trap as I ran after them. Let me tell you – only a fool runs after turkeys.

The true way to get a turkey is to outwit them. I outwitted my first a few days after I found they could fly. I snuck up on it, a few inches every couple of minutes, using a hill to hide my movement. It took a single shot. The turkey twitched several times and then lay still. There’s something about that moment as you watch life fade away. It is a mixture of sadness at ending life and exhilaration that you are still alive.

And on some mornings I remember that.

© Seth Crossman