Posted by: penpatience | November 1, 2016



SI Exif

WRITERS WORDS: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey




I’ve never been fond of turkey. However, because my extended family has always loved turkey; the traditional stuffed turkey-bird has graced many a table at family gatherings over the years.

This afternoon, while I sat on the back deck drinking tea and enjoying colorful fall foliage, I heard the weird gabble-gobble of wild turkeys that inhabit the wooded wild areas behind my community complex.  It’s hunting season in upstate New York and, due to the past year’s mild winter, increased herds of these wild birds will soon be diminished when shotgun blasts and bow and arrows find their mark. Perhaps culling the herd of overpopulated turkeys is beneficial; New England winters can be harsh for wildlife survival. Sipping the tea and warmed by the sun, I decided to research the history of turkeys in America’s favorite holiday.

The 1621 Thanksgiving historically marked the Pilgrims first autumn harvest. However, the American turkey tradition did not begin with these early pilgrims. “While no records exist of the exact bill of fare, Pilgrim chronicler, Edward Winslow, noted in his journal the colony’s governor, William Bradford, sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the three-day event. Wild—but not domestic—turkey was plentiful in the region and a common food source for both English settlers and Native Americans. But it is just as likely the fowling party returned with other birds the colonists regularly consumed such as ducks, geese, and swans. Herbs, onions or nuts might have been added to the birds for extra flavor…….Winslow wrote that the Wampanoag Indians arrived with an offering of five deer. Culinary historians speculate that the deer was roasted on a spit over a smoldering fire and colonists might have used some of the venison to whip up a hearty stew.” (Excerpt — It is noted that Pilgrims held a true Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 following a refreshing 14-day rain which resulted in a larger harvest. William DeLoss Love calculates that this thanksgiving was made on Wednesday, July 30, 1623. (Excerpt-Wikipedia) I noted, although wild turkeys were surely consumed during this early century, wild turkeys were not a centerpiece for annual harvest thanksgivings.

When the cacophonic noise of the wild turkeys moved away from my hill disappearing deeper into the forest of trees, I reflected on their four hundred year evolutional survival. Throughout these years, these turkeys have evaded seasonal obstacles, starvation, and hunters’ stew pots.  President Obama and many Presidents before him have pardoned a domestic turkey in what has become an annual White House tradition. I’m hopeful the wild turkeys in the Northeast woods will experience a similar pardon throughout the holiday season and approaching winter. The hill wouldn’t be the same without their noisy gabble-gobble.


The Year has turned the circle,

The seasons come and go.

The Harvest is all gathered in

And chilly north winds blow.


Orchards have shared their treasures,

The fields their yellow grain.

So open wide the doorway-

Thanksgiving comes again!

–Author unknown





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