Wild Turkeys

This morning, someone pulled up behind my car at the gas station and honked because I didn’t jump out right away when the pump clicked off. I was answering a text from my mother who was watching her mother, my grandmother, die after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s. I apologized to the guy, who had rolled down his window to snap at me for not moving fast enough. He said he was in a hurry and called me a fucking smartass when I pointed out that the other side of the gas pump island was deserted and he could use that side if he needed to get started sooner. He revved his engine and started to pull quickly forward before I’d even let out my own clutch.

His hurry was more important than a stranger’s well-being.

It’s not the first time this rushed feeling has affected me since moving to the city.

Today, though, it landed a little harder. We have this flock of wild turkeys that roams the expansive South Hill neighborhood of Spokane. They’re funny looking birds, and there are a lot of them. I see them several times a week, slowing down traffic while they cross the street or fill an intersection. I’m always worried when I see them in the road that they’re not safe, but mostly people stop or at least slow and swerve. I watched one get creamed today. Feathers everywhere. The bird’s mangled body landed against the curb and all the other turkeys (about two dozen of them) stood around it, staring, ruffling, silent. The driver of the car didn’t stop, didn’t slow down, didn’t even seem to notice.


Photos courtesy Spokaneriffic

His or her hurry was more important than the safety of one of the members of our prolific turkey tribe.

It sounds a little ridiculous, these words describing a turkey being hit by a car and me tearing up on the way back to work.

I get so overwhelmed by the state of human affairs sometimes that I lose my voice. I’m sharing these experiences, these images, not to, I don’t know, preach or implore or beg anyone to do anything. I’m working harder to slow myself down, because it’s easy to get sucked up into the urgency of…everything, I guess.

Things can suddenly feel so fast, even if they’ve felt slow for so long.

The years-long decline of my grandmother followed by her suddenly reaching the end of her life affected me — and continues to affect me —unexpectedly, at a time when lots of things have been affecting me unexpectedly.

With the New Year comes the temptation to make resolutions, to start fresh, to change. I don’t really want to make declarations. I’m not good at following through on them.

I just want to be a little better at my life each day, and I want that to mean I’m better for others, too.

I don’t always know how to do that, but I know it means a lot to me when other people, especially those I know and respect, are open about their own bumbling evolution.

So. It’s belated because I’m still not sure where my voice is lately, but Happy New Year. With it, my hope for, if nothing else, bumbling evolution and greater intention.


Lee Stoops recently relocated with his family to Spokane, Washington from Hailey, Idaho. He holds an MFA from Antioch University in Los Angeles. He’s currently working on a collection of short stories and a novel. Thanks to Spokaneriffic for the photos.


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