March 29, 2007

Thawing (and) turkeys

As Vermont slowly emerges from underneath the wintery hellscape we've all been sleepwalking through for the last 4 months, I would like to take a moment to commemorate the finest nature-related moment of this time-period: the discovery of a turkey neighborhood on a winding shortcut road thereafter named "The Turkey Run" (by me). And as anyone who has spotted this rare and beautiful creature in the wild knows, he is a glorious sight to behold. Audacious and proud, but never haughty, just as many of us see the U.S. (ideally at least).

For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country*...

I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.

If nothing else, he should at least be the national bird of Turkey.

[*Note that the author is here referring to Americans acting in the manner of Cincinnatus, the early Roman consul and dictator, and not the city named in his honor. This is what an education in the classics gets you, writing worthless footnotes to entries about turkeys.]