By Scarlette Quille
There are a few things that one can count on this time of the year, regardless of the weather. One of them is that various animals will start popping out of their respective winter hidey holes and begin searching for a mate. A clumsy, feverish, horny rage consumes the rational mind, creating awkward situations for everyone involved.
I can always tell when this season arrives – turkeys start appearing in massive flocks, wreaking havoc on my morning commute.
No North Idaho spring is complete without your car careening into a full-blown turkey roadblock. Which as luck would have it, exists on every blind corner on our county roads from March until they finally chill out with the mating thing.
The roadblock looks a lot like an angry dance-off as toms are vying for female attention, their tails fanned out circling their opponents. They will not stop this bizarre dance for cars or anything else. The last turkey on the road is probably considered the winner.
That is why there are no less than 10 dead ones on a mile stretch of Parker Canyon Road. I am guessing females make their choice based on the fighting, car stopping and exotic dance skills of the male suitors, which makes sense to me as the jiggly blue skin-headed, awkwardly bearded males don’t have a lot to offer in the looks department.
Humans are not immune to this springtime ritual. In fact, the strange mating dance that occurs each spring in our species is quite similar. We start emerging in the increased daylight hours pale-skinned and poorly groomed, looking for human connection. Occasionally a mated pair of humans will emerge ready to announce their bond in the form of an engagement. There is a lot of that going around this spring.
Recently a friend of mine, let’s just call him “Turkey Vulture,” announced his engagement. This was surprising as he has been a bachelor for over 30 years, and seemed to be quite good at it. However, it is common knowledge that the right little hen can soften the most hardcore bachelor’s heart, and turn him to a world of nesting.
Part of me wants to say that this choice to enter into the world of marriage is crazy, made hastily in the months of arctic despair, but I can’t. I like his little hen, and I’ve witnessed his attempts to woo her firsthand.
The Turkey Vulture started out with the traditional steps of feather fanning and road blocking — in human males this looks more like intense athletic performance in all competitive ventures from beer pong to golf.
Once he had this pretty little hen’s attention, he upped his game by making some improvements to his nest. I witnessed each of these stages in their mating ritual, but I have to state for the record: The night he won her over completely was when he hijacked a Bluetooth speaker, sending an ‘80s hairband stripper ballad blaring into the night sky at the Gorge at George Washington amphitheater. The Turkey Vulture clearly didn’t give a shit about the size of the audience or the knowledge of possible social media exploitation. He had set out to perform the lap dance of a lifetime, fearlessly gyrating as though they were the only two souls in a sold-out concert arena.
Looking back on this, it was that very moment it became apparent that the Turkey Vulture intended on being with this little hen for the rest of his life. After the lap dance the ring was just a formality.
Personal feelings about marriage aside, I am happy for the Turkey Vulture. There is nothing in this life that feels better than seeing the people that you care about blissfully happy. And on this spring day in April, as the snow falls outside, that is enough for me. I’m keeping this one short and sweet, but before I sign off, I’d like to leave all of you freshly engaged lovebirds with my favorite quote on marriage:
“I don’t believe in marriage. I think at worst it’s a hostile political act, a way for small-minded men to keep women in the house and out of the way, wrapped up in the guise of tradition and conservative religious nonsense. At best, it’s a happy delusion — these two people who truly love each other and have no idea how truly miserable they’re about to make each other. But, but, when two people know that, and they decide with eyes wide open to face each other and get married anyway, then I don’t think it’s conservative or delusional. I think it’s radical and courageous and very romantic.”
– Tina Modatti
(from the movie “Frida”)
Cheers to the Turkey Vulch and his hen!