How I Almost Rescued a Wild Turkey

When nature and nurture collide, what are the casualties?

Emily Kingsley
Human Parts
Published in
9 min readJul 19, 2019

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Photo: Norma Murace Melia/EyeEm/Getty Images

TTwo weeks before last Christmas, a coworker slipped on the icy sidewalk and broke her ankle. The same day, another coworker’s wife crashed her car in a ditch, several of my students were struggling with holiday-induced anxiety, and the only thing on NPR was people agreeing with each other about the Senate Intelligence Committee report claiming that the CIA’s interrogation techniques amounted to torture. As was typical for December in southern New Hampshire, there was no snow. Instead, an imperceptibly thin layer of ice seemed to highlight every barren and gnarled tree limb, discarded beer can or sandwich wrapper, and piece of abandoned lawn furniture. It was not a great day.

For a variety of reasons, I took a different route home from work that led me through an unfamiliar neighborhood. I don’t remember feeling particularly angry or sad, but with all the bad news of the day, I think it’s fair to say I was feeling a little bit down. I was driving slowly to both judge and admire the tacky holiday decorations when I suddenly had to veer closer to my side of the road as a hulking UPS truck came careening toward me from the opposite direction. After the truck had disappeared and I’d passed several more inflatable snowmen, I found myself squinting at several large, shadowy figures moving awkwardly in the road up ahead. Although it was nearly dark, there was just enough light for me to make out the shape of small heads and skinny legs sandwiching the fat bodies of wild female turkeys, stuffed from a fall of gorging on local acorns and birdseed. I slowed to a full stop and waited for six big, galumphing turkeys to cross the road from left to right before continuing on.

As I passed the six turkeys on my right, I noticed another on the left. It was flopping around in a terrible way, with one wing outspread and one leg dragging. My mind jumped from blaming the UPS truck for hitting it, to sympathy for both of my coworkers, to anger at terrorism and torture. Before I knew it, I was pulling a U-turn and returning to the injured bird.

By the time I got there, another car had stopped. A middle-aged man was standing with his arms crossed and brow furrowed looking down at what I can only describe as a…

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Emily Kingsley
Human Parts

Always polishing the flip side of the coin. Live updates from the middle class. e.kingsleywhalen@gmail.com. She/her.