Now Playing in Our Back Yard: A Turkey Fan Dance… An Interlude

Wild turkeys use their tails for a fan dance in southern Oregon. (Photo by Curtis Mekemson.)

Wild turkeys use their tails to perform a fan dance in our back yard.

It’s pouring down rain as I write. Northern California is getting slammed and some of the rain is slipping across the border into Southern Oregon. The Weather Channel has named our deluge THE MONSTER STORM. Get out your hammer, Noah. I sat in our sunroom (very much a misnomer today) and watched the rain fall while Peggy listened to Christmas carols and worked on a quilt inside.

Our deck reflects the rain.

Our deck reflects the rain. The last of fall adds a touch of color along the Applegate River.

Rain splattered windows provided a view of our cedar tree out of the sunroom.

Rain splattered windows provided a view of our cedar tree from the sunroom.

I was escaping from work, playing hooky. Things have become a bit hectic around here. Christmas and a trip to Tennessee are just around the corner. So I have been shopping, writing the Christmas letter, and putting together the annual family calendar.

I am also up to my eyeballs in writing an extensive blog about the time that Peggy’s father was forced to bail out of a damaged airplane into the jungle known for headhunters when he was flying supplies into China during World War II.

And last— very far from least, the final proofs on the book about my Peace Corps experience in West Africa are supposed to come in today or tomorrow. I can’t figure out whether I am more nervous or excited. The book should be available world-wide as an E-book by Christmas. So keep your eyes open for The Bush Devil Ate Sam. Several of you helped me choose the title. I will post how to obtain copies on my blog as soon as it is available. Peggy and I are donating half of whatever profits we receive to fighting Ebola in Liberia.

A carved rendition of a Liberian Bush Devil that I purchased from a leper in Ganta, Liberia in 1965.

A carved rendition of a Liberian Bush Devil that I purchased from a leper in Ganta, Liberia in 1965.

One result of all this activity is that my blog production has slowed down. So I was delighted this afternoon when a flock of turkeys that hangs out on our property came by and put on a fan dance with their tails. It was a blog-ready show! And the rain was taking a break. I grabbed my small S-100 Canon and ran out to join them.

Wild turkeys on display in southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

The turkeys line up for their dance.

Turkeys strut their stuff in southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.


And strut their stuff.

And strut their stuff.

Doing the turkey trot.

Doing the turkey trot.

With tail feathers extended. Next blog: Peggy's dad crashes his air plane in a remote Burma jungle.

With tail feathers extended. Next blog: Peggy’s dad bails out into a remote Burma jungle during World War II.

31 thoughts on “Now Playing in Our Back Yard: A Turkey Fan Dance… An Interlude

    • Thanks, Lumar. And turkeys are quite handsome. They can also be quite aggressive. I watch them run off deer on occasion. And once, when I was down on my knees trying to capture some photos of Turkey chicks, mom flew at me with claws extended first. I backed away quickly. 🙂

    • Following the news, it looked like you needed to be the one safe and dry, Bruce. 🙂

      And the turkeys did provide a fun break. They usually do. Maybe old Ben Franklin was right in promoting turkeys as the national bird. I think Ben couldn’t get around bald eagles living off of smelly, dead fish. –Curt

  1. Curt, congrats on so many things! Your outside, despite the rain, looks cozy and beautiful. I adore your sculpture. I once managed an art gallery that showcased Shona sculpture. Are you familiar with the art form from Zimbabwe?

    It’s such an accomplishment, writing a book, so you can just add that to your impressive list!

    Stay warm and safe travels. Tennessee is near and dear to my heart. My family is there. It’s a wonderful, beautiful and welcoming place. Best to you and Peggy and Merry Christmas.

    P.S. Love the turkeys!

    • I just googled the Shona. Wow. Both beautiful and amazingly ‘modernistic’ in look. Step aside Picasso. I once visited the wood carving studios in Mombassa. Incredible work is being done in East Africa.

      I never imagined how hard writing a book might be. 🙂 Now it is on to marketing.

      Our daughter Tasha and her family live in Hendersonville and Peggy went to UT in Knoxville. When Peg and I took three years off to travel, we used Tennessee as our home base. So we have been in and out of there a lot.

      And a Merry Christmass to you and your family as well, Brigette. –Curt

  2. What a sight! I can see all the activity with the turkeys, even in still photos.

    Yes, it’s a busy time for many, but your plate seems particularly full. The news about the e-book is exciting! Not scary, exciting! ha ha, but aren’t those often the same thing? I take time off every year to do my enormous Christmas letter, but this year it coincided with my publishing of a newsletter for the Mt. Hood Cherokee group. The Xmas letter is done, but half the work is the envelopes and addressing, and envelopes are still in cellophane. My point is, I get how life interrupts blogging. And I can hardly wait to read the one about Pegge’s dad.

    • The turkeys are staring at me through the window this morning. Maybe they are curious about the blog. Possibly Tara would like the dance. 🙂

      I am lucky on the Christmas Card business. As long as I do the Xmas letter, Peggy does the cards.

      The Mt. Hood Cherokee group caught my attention. So I googled them and read your blogs. I hadn’t been aware of a Cherokee group in Oregon. Interesting.


  3. Curt, your photos of the Turkey Fan Dance are wonderful! Are they all males? If yes, do they do this to impress each other? And your description of you and Peggy sitting inside during the rain sounds so cozy – we used to do the exact same thing when we lived in Oregon.

    I am so excited about your book and can’t wait to read it. You must be thrilled. We understand about other projects cutting into blog production – we’re in the same boat. We’ve been up to our eyeballs in a project too – hopefully we can share some of it in the near future.

    Wishing you, Peggy, and your family the happiest of holidays. Travel safely and revel in each other’s company. All the best, Terri

    • Thanks. There were both male and females involved in the festivities, Terri. Usually it is just the males that fluff out their feathers and strut. I felt like I had a front row seat at a major performance.

      I’ve been nervous about the book,Terri, but the proofs came in today. I think to cover is going to grab people and Peggy loves it. And the company did a good good job on the book’s general layout. Now I am more excited than nervous. Just barely. 🙂

      Very happy holidays to you, James and your families as well. –Curt

  4. Only someone who’s never been around wild turkeys would consider “you turkey” an insult. They’re beautiful birds, and much smarter than their industrialized cousins. You have some great photos.

    Good news about the book, too. And yes — I finally snapped to and realized Christmas is just under two weeks away. How that happened I don’t know, but I suppose I’d best get myself out of low gear, too!

    • Amazing how fast Christmas comes barreling down the freeway, Linda. I absolutely ignore it until December, and then it is here. Fortunately all of my Christmas chores are wrapped up, so to speak.

      I like turkeys. We have a flock of eight that come strutting down our driveway and circle the house every day. Occasionally, several times. They were missing for a couple of years when the fox population had zoomed up. But now the foxes are down again and the turkey population has increased throughout the Applegate Valley. Nature.

      The book cover proof came in today and I really like it. I used the bush devil carving I bought from Freddy the leper carver in Ganta as the main graphic and I think it is really powerful. I am excited for people to see it.


  5. A beautiful post Curt. The Turkey dance is fascinating and a rare sight for us here in India. Congratulations on your forthcoming book and best wishes for your contribution in fighting the Ebola epidemic.
    With kindest regards.

    • Thanks, Dilip. The turkeys and other wildlife around our house provide endless entertainment. Our property backs up a National Forest and a number of the animals consider our five acres as an extension of their territory.

      I will soon be posting a story about Peggy’s dad flying as a Hump pilot out of India during World War II. –Curt

  6. I have never seen turkeys doing this, great sight. They were very obliging. I got all excited watching two robins fighting over the area I was clearing, but by the time I grabbed my camera, one had seen the other off and was feasting.

    • Nature is constantly doing her thing around here, Hilary, so I keep my camera handy.

      Proofs on the book and cover came back. We only had a few corrections. And I think the cover really turned out. So, hopefully, within the week, the book will be available as an E-book and have its own web page. –Curt

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