He was indistinguishable from the others until the accident. It is purely conjecture as to what happened, but one day late last fall there he was, hobbling around on one leg, the other dangled beneath him, a blackened useless appendage.
He did his best to keep up with the flock and for awhile it looked as if he might. Slowly though they deserted him, leaving him to fend for himself.
I live next to my mother and together we watched helplessly as he struggled to stay alive. “He’ll never make it through the winter,” I told her. “Once the snow starts falling, he’ll never be able to forage on one leg. He’ll fall victim to a fox or coyote and that will be the end of him.”
“Not if I feed him,” she replied. And feed him she did. Carrot and potato peelings, fruit scraps and any other leftover she could scrounge got thrown into the tall grass at the end of her lawn.
Autumn turned to winter and he continued to survive. The snow was late in coming to New Hampshire, a mixed blessing as far as the one-legged turkey was concerned, we were sure. He was alone now, no brood to socialize with (if turkeys socialize); no one to stand sentry as he slept. His only friend in the world was my mother.
We were on turkey alert it seemed, for when he hadn’t been seen for a couple of days one of us would call and ask the other if he had been spotted. Just when we were about to lament his passing he’d show up, much to my mother’s delight.
Winter turned to spring and spring to summer. Although I didn’t see him often, I continued to get reports from my mother as to his continued well-being.
Occasionally, I will hear a loud ungainly flapping and know that he is out there, beyond my view looking for just the right branch to settle on for the night.
This evening as dusk was coming on, I decided to take a few pictures of my luscious lemon yellow petunias. Suddenly, a loud commotion erupted from the woods behind my mother’s house and I knew he was out there. I called out to my husband and together we went on the prowl to see if we could get his picture.
“Look, there he is!” my husband whispered.
There he sat, thirty feet up in an old bull pine, with only four claws clinging tightly to the branch. Sleep tight, Old Man.