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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: August 5, 2021

Jane Thibodeau Martin,

The Gift of a Feather

Thursday morning I woke up less than well-rested after a storm front with some nasty characteristics swept by our home. Many Wisconsinites felt the same after this wide-spread system, I am sure. Luckily no one in my Wisconsin heart circle had damage, and the only impact of consequence to me was that Wolfgang the dog had his usual storm-related meltdown. Since the weather forecast was for a prolonged event, I prepared him in advance †he had on his thundershirt, and had been given a dose of prescription sedation, but in the end the only way I could settle him was to sit on the floor of the shower with him in the dark.

Such is the life of an animal lover.

In the morning, the dogs and I set out on our normal early morning walk. As I reached the end of our driveway and began to pivot to the right, all three of us stopped. Ahead of us, easily seen against our red granite road, two fawns of the year stood on the right shoulder, waiting to cross the road east; while a bit further on, three mother turkeys and their numerous offspring crossed headed west. For our quiet gravel road, this was a major traffic event!

The sight was so overstimulating to the two dogs that I had all I could do to restrain them for a moment †they outweigh me combined, and it took me a few seconds to recommunicate the standard that they would not be allowed to drag me face down the gravel road chasing the wildlife.

I held still and waited, and eventually everyone in transit got where they wanted to be, (except the dogs!) and we continued our walk. I was admiring the rain swollen creek, and the blackness of the wet tree trunks against the astonishing lush greens of the summer. As my Oklahoma resident son says, Wisconsin summer is â€green on green on green.†Every possible shade is there; in its own way as amazing as the fall colors are.

When we reached the area the turkeys had crossed, I noticed a single, perfect adult turkey feather on the road. After the dogs finished sniffing it, I picked it up and admired its many colors †black, brown, tan, khaki, white, grey. It made me think about the numerous turkeys I had drawn and colored through my childhood †tracing my hand to make a turkey, pasting construction paper feathers of all colors on a mimeographed handout of a turkey at Garfield School. and coloring a turkey picture in a coloring book. I always used a rainbow of colors, because I had the idea turkey feathers were a marvel of brilliant hues.

Of course I eventually saw real wild turkeys (they were a rarity in Wisconsin when I was growing up.) It was quite a letdown that they are â€natural†colored as they should be, to camouflage them from predators. No red, no yellow, no blue. Now when I find a turkey feather, I am able to appreciate that their multitude of shading is beautiful as any imaginary turkey of my childhood.

Turkey feathers have become sort of a talisman for me. We have lots of turkeys around our home, and I see and spook them frequently when walking on our land. But whenever I see a perfect feather, I always pick it up and bring it home. The cats like playing with them, and I stick them in my plant pots and around picture frames.

If someone was to bet me $100 I could find a turkey feather outside in the next week, I'd turn the bet down. Finding one when you are searching for that specific item would be nearly impossible, much like winning the lottery.

There are two factors at play in finding a turkey feather, a shed antler, or any other similar talisman in the great outdoors. One is you have to be in the right place (turkey habitat) at the right time, so some luck is required.

The other is you must be in a state of mindfulness. You are seeing and noticing the little things going on around you. You are not rushing, or stressing about some problem or task you need to get to as soon as you can.

When I am in that state, my eyes are wandering, because my heart and mind are at peace, and allow them to do so.

Each time I find a feather it reminds me that a walk outside is a restorative, healthy therapy for me. And when I see the feathers around my house, it reminds me to take time to let that happen.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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