An English In Kentucky



















August 29th 2009

bud1.jpg (71759 bytes)

    Around Christmas a very large White chicken called a turkey was dropped off at the door to Philemon's kitchen.  It  had a habit of following us around in what some of us agreed was an unnatural manner.

    Okanya's mother suggested we keep an eye on it in case it ran off or was stolen.  She had seen turkey before and was, she told us, not in the least alarmed by its size or fearlessness.   And as she was passing this wisdom along the turkey pecked her on the foot with sufficient ferocity to make her bleed.  Philemon made the mistake of laughing.

    When it came time for slaughter Okanya's mother had her turn to laugh, because by then Philemon especially had grown fond of the turkey.  For our part, Okanya and I, we had quickly concluded that turkeys were perfect companions.  The sort of person to share food and games with.  Maybe even dig the odd hole with.   So when Christmas did come it was one of considerable mourning, except from Okanya's mother for whom the day was joyous and plentiful.

    Ground dwelling birds are probably more like cows than they are like Barn Swallows.  Agility of any sort offers a creature confidence.  This agility means the pause between curiosity and fear can last a while, and I suppose if this argument is true, the qualities of domestication further extends this pause between curiosity and fear.



    Philemon's turkey had a surplus of curiosity.  And though these things are long gone in memory, I think Philemon grew fonder of his turkey in direct relation to the increased nervousness this turkey inspired in Okanya's mother.  As well, being the guardian of so unusual a creature gave Philemon a certain Úlan amongst the crowd that sometimes gathered to stare at it and question the relationship it had with chickens.

    Okanya, who was so much bolder than I, could handle the turkey at will.  He could pick it up, toss it in the air to see if it might fly.  When I approached it, its head was close to my chest which might not have mattered had I not evinced in it an attitude of great disdain.  An attitude I remain so familiar with because often the cat repeats it in those moments of the day when our paths cross.  But I too was able once to toss the turkey in the air, and I can report that this turkey could flap its wings and drift a while, otherwise it was quite flightless.

    I am not certain I have ever wished for overt friendliness from creatures.  Perhaps it is a sense of fair play that I hope for.  An honest appraisal of each other.  That moment between equals that can lead to a politics of sharing.  

    I also understand that in those moments between curiosity and fear there is a potential for manipulation by those creatures who possess an agility in the area of deviousness.  And I do hope the hens, when they arrive, are not like cats or lonely white turkeys or rescued fawns, or groundhogs. 

bud2.jpg (77778 bytes)

tim candler

Previous  Next


(Grey Junglefowl)  (Junglefowl)