I’M JUST CURIOUS: Wandering Nanas using winter hacks

by Debbie Walker

Do you remember my column on November 14 was about “Winter Hacks?” When I wrote that I might have been a little cocky because I am in Florida and avoiding your nasty, snowy cold winters. I should have known better than to be so brashy. It’s not good, it will come back to haunt me every time! We will get back to ‘weather’ in a little bit.

So… The Wandering Nanas (my friend, Nana Dee and myself, Nana Daffy) had been planning another trip to Ohio and Pennsylvania. We went up in June and were making a return trip to celebrate Dee’s Aunt Jean’s 95th birthday.

It is a beautiful trip going up to Walnut Creek, Ohio. You go through a section of the Smokey Mountains, what a view! Driving isn’t too bad in most cases, however, there are some aggravating road nit-wits. And then there are also some of Mother Nature’s critters who make driving tricky. We came so close to hitting a deer. We were aware that some of the deer, five to be exact, had gone to Deer Heaven that day on the side of the roads. We did not want to add to the list. A couple of nights later we met a deputy who wanted to forewarn us that the deer are in rutting season and are subject to some crazy, careless decisions.

Aunt Jean had a very nice birthday. She celebrated with her son, his wife, the Wandering Nanas and some of the residents of her assisted living center. She is looking forward to more birthdays! We plan to be at each one.

The next day we made our way to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, without getting lost. The day after we got there it snowed! The next morning we had to do the snowy, icy, clean off the truck dance. I brought my snow brush and scraper, thank goodness. Now if you remember the ‘ Weather Hacks’ comments from the column on November 14, I spoke of the alcohol spray for the windshield and windows.’ I used it there and left it for Dee’s niece, Jackie, who had never heard of such. She liked the idea.

Just before we left, I missed a three-inch step. That’s right, I fell directly to the floor and I must admit to thinking I heard something crack. When I was able to stand on it I figured it was just a sprain. It wasn’t easy to walk but I could drive easily, and I drove us the two days back to Florida. The next morning I went to the doctor and was sent for X-rays. Oh yes, I had done it, and it was, indeed, broken, and would require surgery. Yuck!

Nana Dee in the meantime got hit with a sinus and ear infection but we made it back to Sunny Florida! It has been a bit chilly but nothing like Ohio or Pennsylvania. I dug out my Christmas sweaters this morning. I will start wearing them the day after Thanksgiving. I sincerely wish for you all had a wonderful day with family and friends.

I’m just curious what your favorite part of the meal is. Every family seems to have some special thing they do or cook, share your favorites with us please. Some of us might enjoy trying it for Christmas.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Two live links from the Met at the Waterville Opera House

Anthony Roth Costanzo

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Saturday, November 23: Philip Glass’s 1983 opera, Akhnaten, deals with the Egyptian pharaoh of that name who launches monotheism as the country’s faith upon replacing his late father, Amenhotep III, on the throne. He marries Nefertiti, throws out the pagan polytheism and its priests, lives in a very insulated world with his Queen and family and is eventually overthrown via a rebellion by the former subjects and murdered. His son, King Tut, restores the old pagan order.

Zachary James

Having watched this well-produced, directed, conducted and performed new Met production, I found it a very good example of dance, narration, acting and juggling – and a smaller than usual amount of opera singing. Certain musical melodies and rhythms take on a repetitious quality at a sometimes monotonous level yet a wonderful beauty and vibrancy is communicated, too.

J’Nai Bridges

Anthony Roth Costanzo gave a fine performance in the title role with good work by J’Nai Bridges as Nefertiti, Zachary James as the narrating ghost of Akhna­ten’s father, Amenhotep, and others. Guest Maestro Karen Kamensek directed the orchestra brilliantly, being already experienced in conducting this work abroad and other Glass compositions.

The original 1983 re­cord­ing on CBS Sony can be heard on youtube, along with other excerpts.

Karen Kamensek

Sunday, November 24: Puccini’s Madame Butterfly was postponed from the live November 9 broadcast due to projector problems here. The opera is one of the most frequently produced in the entire repertoire. Its story of the tragically deluded geisha girl, Cio-Cio-San or Butterfly, and the jerkish Lieutenant Pinkerton was colorfully produced, directed and staged with generally captivating results as theater.

Contralto Elizabeth DeShong sang Butterfly’s maid Suzuki warmly while baritone Paulo Szot was good as the American consul Sharpless. Soprano Hui He handled the middle and lower notes of Butterfly and gave a very convincing portrayal of her hopes and anguish, really building to her heart-breaking suicide. Her high notes were not good. Tenor Andrea Care’s Pinkerton was bland.

Pier Giorgio Morandi’s conducting was quite good in balancing the tragedy and lyricism.

The next link, Alban Berg’s opera, Wozzeck, will be January 11, 2020.


FOR YOUR HEALTH: Christmas Dreams Come Early For Wife Of Work-Life Balance Expert

(NAPSI)—It could be said that everything Troy Amdahl learned to love he learned in kindergarten. No kidding. He met Kristen, his wife of 29 years, at age five, remained friends, took her to the senior prom, married and raised four children.

Recently, Amdahl had a post on his Facebook page go virile for an act of kindness for his wife that he never, in his wildest dreams, could have imagined.

Amdahl, along with Dave Braun, is one of the OolaGuys, and has co-authored several international bestselling Oola books on finding the proper work-life balance. With a simple message, “Live the life you deserve,” they recently published their newest collaboration, “Oola for Christians: Find Balance and Grow.”

A self-avowed “Christmas curmudgeon,” for decades Amdahl approached the holiday season with a debate: when to put up the Christmas tree. Kristen, on the other hand, loves Christmas and everything about it—decorating the house, gatherings with their large family, making homemade gifts, the Hallmark movies and, most importantly, the meaning of the season. Yet, through it all, Troy tried to rein in the holiday cheer.

For all of Amdahl’s lessons as the Oola guy, he was about to walk the talk.

The couple had recently moved out of their home while renovations were being completed. That’s when the idea hit him. He thought about how he wanted to try to give back some of the joy and happiness to this woman who has been by his side for his whole life.

Unbeknownst to Kristen, Amdahl put a call in to their decorators to fully decorate two stunning trees: one “blank canvas” for the many family ornaments the kids had made over the years, and another Pinterest-worthy tree to surprise his wife as she walked in the door.

He never expected the response he got when they returned to their home on Halloween. Their son was there to capture the magical moment when his mom saw the first tree and cried tears of joy. When she saw the “other” tree, she lost it. Jumping up and down and crying.

“Why did I put these restrictions around when, what and how,” mused Amdahl, “when enjoying Christmas early gave my wife such joy?”

“Love well the people who love and support you,” Amdahl says. “Invest in their dreams, even if they are different from your own.” By his wife’s reaction, he continues, “My only disappointment is that I didn’t do this years ago. Heck, if it makes someone I love this much this happy, it can stay up all year as far as I’m concerned.”

You can purchase “Oola for Christians: Find Balance and Grow” at https://amzn.to/2K3sbMx.

  • BookBites is a continuing series bringing readers information and ideas for their next read. For more reading ideas, visit BookTrib.com and subscribe to the weekly newsletter.

SOLON & BEYOND: Model flyers meet for indoor fly-in

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
Solon, Maine 04979

Good morning, my friends. Don’t worry, be happy!

I am pleased to have some news about Lief’s favorite club that he enjoys so much, the Franklin County Aircraft Modelers Club, Deadstick Landings. The club members hold their Indoor Flying at the Calvary Pentecostal Church, in Madison, every Thursday 9 a.m. – noon. (Donations Appreciated).

The meeting of the club was called to order on November 26 by president Lew Gordon with five members present. The secretary’s report for the October meeting was approved as printed in the November Newsletter. The treasurer’s report was read by Frank Bedard and accepted as read.

Under old business: It was mentioned for the record that the club owns two lawn tractors and a field roller. The roller will be used by the airport owner to maintain the runways which we also use.

Under new business: As no new nominations were made for the club, a motion was made to close nominations and for the secretary to cast one ballot for the slate of officers as listed in the November Newsletter. That list is as follows and the secretary did cast one ballot for the nomination. Elected were: Wayne White – President, James Towle – Vice President; Frank Bedard – Treasurer, William Connor – (Randy) – Secretary and Wayne White – Safety Officer.

A motion was made, and seconded and passed after discussion that Lew Gordon be removed as a second signer on the club banking accounts and Wayne White, newly-elected president, be added to the accounts as a second signer. Treasurer Frank Bedard will see that this is accomplished.

After the business was concluded, a lengthy discussion ensued of all the benefits of growing old! (I would really liked to have been there to hear that one!)

Motion made to adjourn past at 7:28 p.m. Minutes respectively submitted by secretary pro tem Joseph Gilbert.

The next meeting will be on February 25, at 7 p.m., at the Calvary Pentecostal Church.

There won’t be any Embden Historical Society, Inc., meetings during the months of January, February and March. The April 13, 2020, meeting is at 6:30 p.m.; Program at 7 p.m.: Properties, Trails & History of Somerset Woods. Chairperson; Carol Dolan, (slide presentation) by Jack Gibson, location: Embden Community Center, 797 Embden Pond Road, Embden

We have a beautiful guest at our large window off the living room in our home recently. She has been knocking on the window and staring in at us all day for over two weeks, it is a beautiful female cardinal. The male cardinal quite often comes and drags her away, appearing quite upset with her, but she persists and comes right back! (I wonder if any of you who read this have ever had it happen at your house?) We are enjoying watching this beautiful creature, and even put a small feeder which glues to the glass for her but she continues to tap on the glass!

Peter and Sherry had their annual family get together for Thanksgiving on the Sunday before and we all look forward to it! This year there were 28 of us who enjoyed all the love and great food together. They always have a different game after the dinner, and seems as though that gets better every year, there was lots of laughter and good fun going on. As always, Mark and Karen drove up from Florida for the wonderful event, the awful snow and rain storms made it more difficult, but everyone got back home safely!

And now for Percy’s memoir called, “Heart Gifts.” It’s not the things that can be bought that are life’s richest treasure, it’s just the little “heart gifts” that money cannot measure. A cheerful smile, a friendly word, a sympathetic nod are priceless little treasures from the storehouse of our God. They are the things that can’t be bought with silver or with gold, for thoughtfulness and kindness and love, are never sold. They are the priceless things in life for which no one can pay and the giver finds rich recompense in giving them away. ( words by Helen Steiner Rice.)

THE MONEY MINUTE – Christmas gift idea: give them an experience

by Jac M. Arbour CFP®, ChFC®
President, J.M. Arbour Wealth Management

Wow. Look at all the advertising. Look at all the products for sale. Look at all the money being spent on stuff—stuff that will soon be obsolete, no longer the “next-best-thing,” and most likely, thrown away, worn out, or placed on a shelf or in a box to sit in the dark for years.

Millennials (I am one of them), as annoying as we can be to some older generations, have reminded the world of something important: There is more value in memories from life experiences than can be found in most tangible products.

In 1993, my grandparents took my mother, my sister, and myself to Disney World, Epcot, Sea World, A Hawaiian Luau, and other major attractions in Orlando. We rented a small silver car. We stayed at Summerfield Suites in Buena Vista. The breakfast buffet at the resort had a cereal lineup that made me very excited (I love my cereals). We sat together for every meal. I did cannon balls into the pool. So did my grandfather, which made him even cooler in my book. I tried wrestling with my sister in the pool. She wasn’t a fan of that. My grandfather got on stage at the Luau in front of hundreds of people and danced in a way that left us all in stitches. We watched movies together on the planes. We did it all.

My family has reminisced about these moments many times, and each time we do, we smile, we laugh, and we comment how we wish we could go back and do it all over again.

To me, those memories are the best gifts in the world. I carry them with me every day. They will never be put on a shelf. They will never become obsolete. They will always be the “best-thing.”

This year, regardless of your budget, consider giving experiences. Some do not cost a dime. Be creative in the experiences you create. More than anything, the energy behind your intent will determine how the experience is well, experienced.

Here is what I promise: You can give the gift of a lifetime without spending a penny.

See you all next month.

Jac Arbour CFP®, ChFC®

Jac Arbour is the President of J.M. Arbour Wealth Management and can be reached at 207-248-6767. Investment advisory services are offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.

SCORES & OUTDOORS: Cardinals brighten the landscape wherever they reside

Male, left, and female cardinal

Symbolize family life and good family relation

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

It seems this time of year people see more northern cardinals than any other time of the year. I know my wife and I see them year round at our home, visiting our feeders on a regular basis.

In picture postcards and greeting cards, you usually see them in a winter setting, especially around Christmas time. I have two such photos hanging on the walls of my TV room at home.

Northern Cardinals do not migrate, so they brighten the landscape wherever they reside. As a result of not migrating, they will live their entire lives within a mile or two of where they were born.

Few birds are so well loved as the Northern Cardinal. Even the female stands out with its red accents on brown. Also, unlike other bird species, the male and female cardinals both sing. Since the cardinal doesn’t appear to need much sleep, you may hear them singing in the morning well before sunrise.

Actually, besides gracing us with the beauty of its red feathers, those plumes serve a very important service to the cardinals. They keep the cardinal warm during the winter, helping the birds to survive the coldest of seasons. Seeing them in winter may help you to regain some of your personal strength, considering what that little bird is enduring during the winter. Cardinals symbolize family life and good family relations.

Some of our readers have reported that cardinals will come to the feeders at their windows, and peck against the glass. Well, males can be aggressive when defending their territory, and they frequently attack other males who intrude. This tendency sometimes leads cardinals to fly into glass windows, when they charge an “intruder” that is really their own reflection.

During the mating season, which begins in March, the males are so hot-blooded, that although they breed near birds of other species, they will never allow one of their own kind to set up housekeeping in their territory. A male cardinal can be seen frequently following another from bush to bush, emitting a note of anger, and diving aggressively towards the trespasser.

You can tell what its emotional state is by looking at its crest. If the bird is calm, the crest will lay flat, and if it is excited, the crest will lift tall and peaked.

Once he is successful in driving out the intruder, he will perch himself in his favorite tree and pour out an unmistakeable song of victory and exultation.

Cardinals are good parents. The male cardinal shares in the duties of parenthood with his mate, feeding and caring for the mother during and after incubation. He will protect his family until they are able to safely leave the nest. Young cardinals frequently follow their parents on the ground for several days after leaving the nest, and will remain until they are able to fend for themselves. During this period of caring for its mate, the male will feed the female seeds, and to the common observer, they appear to be kissing.

An interesting note about the male is that during this period, he has has the ability to change his colors to a duller shade of brown and will look more like the female. This is a camouflage to help fulfill his duties as a dedicated parent.

Cardinals will usually be parents to 3 – 4 eggs. The incubation period is 12-13 days, and the young will leave the nest about 9 – 11 days after hatching. The cardinal’s expected life span is up to 15 years.

The cardinal is a seed eater with a strong bill. He also likes fruits, small berries and insects. Towards autumn they frequently go to the tops of tall trees in search of grapes and berries. Cardinals tend to be as fond of pulpy fruits as they are of the seeds of corn and grasses. They also eat a variety of weed seeds and insects that can be harmful to humans.

The northern cardinal is abundant and widespread. It has expanded its range over the last century and the current numbers remain stable. The bird actually benefits from the growth of cities, with so many bird feeders, that they have been thriving and increasing in population since the 18th century.

It is the official bird of seven states, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.

The cardinal got its name when colonists arrived in North America, because the male’s red crest reminded them of a Catholic cardinal’s biretta (headgear).

Is a cardinal hanging around your house? Don’t worry. According to folklore, a cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration, as well as despair, to let you know they will always be with you.

Erecting bird feeders is the only way to get them to stay around. It is illegal to own a cardinal as a pet or to kill one. They are government-protected wild bird species and protected pursuant to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

So, observe them, love them, but leave them to their own world. Should you come across an injured cardinal, it is best to contact an avian rehabilitator in your area.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

Which NFL team has relocated three times from its original city?

Answer can be found here.

SOLON & BEYOND: Town to hold preliminary budget meeting; to discuss marijuana opt-in options

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
Solon, Maine 04979

Received this e-mail from the Solon Town Office: There will be a preliminary budget meeting for annual town meeting on Wednesday, December 11, at 6:30 p.m., at the town office conference room. This is a preliminary meeting to discuss town budget issues before the annual budget meeting and the marijuana “Opt In” options for a town vote in March.

The selectmen will be attending a workshop on December 4 on the new marijuana laws and what it means for the towns.

Also Selectman Keith Gallagher is resigning effective November 28, 2019. He and his family are moving out of state in December. The selectmen are sad to see him leave. He has been a real asset to the town and brought new knowledge and insight to the board of selectmen.

The selectmen will not hold a special election to fill his seat. Instead, at the March 2020 annual town meeting there will be two selectmen positions on the ballot; one a three-year term and one a one-year term. Selectman Sarah Davis will be running again for the three-year term position.

Nomination papers will be available for the two selectmen positions and the road commissioner position on Wednesday, November 27, and due back by Tuesday, January 7, 2020. The nomination papers will be available from the town clerk and are required to have the signatures of at least 25 registered Solon voters when they are turned in.

That is all the recent news I have since I just sent my column for this week. (I will be delivering the papers on Wednesday that week because of Thanksgiving the next day.)

Hoping to give you a few laughs, I’m going to write down an old poem (October 4, 1943). It was one I had written for English I, at Flagstaff High School, I had named it Saving Gas! Some people go to the movies in cars, and that is luck, But we have to go in a breezy old truck. What do we care, if we only get there. With many a song our singing is rare. We don’t have much style, but we have lots of fun. The people of Stratton always know when we’ve come!

I received an A- for this crazy poem, we had some great teachers! But…… there wasn’t any movie theater in Flagstaff, but there was one in Stratton and my wonderful uncle loaded up his truck with as many of us who fit in safely, and off we would go to Stratton! I brings back many wonderful memories!

Now I want to tell you more about the great calendars we at the Skowhegan Adult Ed teacher-less painting class have had made. There are some beautiful special pictures painted by members in this group for each 12 months of the year 2020. Much of the work done to get these calendars finished was done by Lee York, who has been with this group of artists since the beginning. I can’t call them my students since I don’t teach them anything, but I do call them wonderful friends. Don’t know how to tell you how proud I am of these painter friends of mine and their talent shows in the paintings. If any of you are interested in purchasing a calendar you can call me at 643-5805. The money that we take in for them is going to go towards scholarships.

And now for Percy’s memoir: Don’t wait with longing for the day when better times might come your way. Discard the fears that may depress; Live now and garner happiness.

It’s such a waste to dwell on gloom. Though you have problems, find the room for loving when the path is rough; For laughter when the going’s tough.

To fully live means you must face whatever comes with humble grace. And if you mourn, turn it to praise. How much to do, how few the days!

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Crazy December holidays

by Debbie Walker

This is the 12th month I have done the Crazy Holidays columns. I hope you got some fun out of them as I did. I haven’t decided yet what I will follow up with to use for the last week of the month. Do you have any ideas? Let me know what you might like for one week out of every month. I’ll be waiting.

Okay, here we are for the month of December 2019. Most people wouldn’t believe there are holidays other than Christmas for this month. If all the Christmas marketing hype has you somewhat frazzled, pick your own holiday to observe in your own way. Here are a few suggestions:

December 3: National Roof Over Your Head Day: Spend a few minutes of thoughtful appreciation for having a roof over your head. You might think of donating to something benefiting the homeless in your area.

December 5: Bathtub Party Day: Invite a friend (or spouse) to your bathtub party. Open a drink, light some candles and have some snacks within reach.

December 6: Mitten Tree Day: Set up a Christmas tree and have people bring in mittens to donate. This is popular in both schools and work.

December 7: Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day: Please do remember.

December 12: National Ding-A-Ling Day: You should beware of the people you encounter today. Even normally conservative people have been known to go a little a little crazy on this date. It’s a day to cut loose.

December 14: National Bouillabaisse Day: I must admit that I have never had bouillabaisse, nor do I intend to. I love our fish or seafood chowders; my sister’s is especially good. The French and folks around the Mediterranean have their version, I’ll keep ours!! I imagine a lot of families have different recipes.

December 16: National Chocolate Covered Everything Day: Ok this must be one of my favorite foods. On this day you should also share with others.

December 20: Go Caroling Day: You must be able to put together a small group of fun loving people who would be happy to put smiles on others faces. You don’t need to be an expert.

December 21: Look on the Bright Side Day: This day is the shortest day of the year but you only need to remember to look for the good in different aspects of the day.

December 23: Festivus – It’s for the Rest of Us: If you don’t celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanza, and you don’t have a clue what Ramadan and Boxing Day are; Festivus might be just the holiday for you.

December 24: National Egg Nog Day: You may start your egg nog drinking on Christmas Eve but my family starts just before Thanksgiving and on through the holidays. Egg Nog is famous in our house also for nutrition if someone has been ill.

December 30: National Bicarbonate of Soda Day: The other name for this is baking soda. It can be used for baking, indigestion and heartburn, removes odors from kitty litter, as a fire extinguishers, cleaning product, and many more uses.

December 31: Make Up Your Mind Day: You can ‘make up your mind’ to rather you want to make any resolutions. Then make up your mind what those may be.

That ends the Crazy Holidays columns for the year. The replacement is going to be Different Uses for Regular Products for the year 2020. Hope you enjoyed the Crazy Holidays, if you missed any of them please check out the archives for, I’M JUST CURIOUS. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

FOR YOUR HEALTH: Veterans Commemorate 50th Anniversary Of Vietnam War With ‘Alive Day’ Stories

Photo credit: www.DAV.org

(NAPSI)—Army veteran Ron Hope was piloting a helicopter in Vietnam to extract a company of soldiers, when he was shot down. His left brachial plexus—the network of nerves that sends signals from the spinal cord to the arm and hand—was crushed. He also broke both legs, suffered compound fractures in six vertebrae and had third-degree burns covering 55 percent of his body.

The Texas native was honorably discharged from the Army and turned his focus to recovery. He went on to enroll at Tarleton State University and dedicated 40 years to serving his fellow veterans. Each year on July 15, Hope hosts what he calls a “celebration of life” gathering to mark his Alive Day and remember the battle buddies he lost. “I met a lot of good people in Vietnam. Unfortunately, I don’t have many of them left, but I still remember them and those we left behind.”

Alive Days are now common among veterans who have survived catastrophic wartime injuries, whether visible or invisible. These special days mark the anniversary when they almost died serving their country. Many Vietnam-era veterans have reached 50 years’ worth of Alive Days. DAV (Disabled American Veterans), a nonprofit charity that helps veterans get their benefits and services, honors those milestones through a new online series of articles and podcasts featuring Vietnam heroes.

For example, Marine veteran Bobby Barrera had been in Vietnam for only six weeks when a massive explosion rocked his vehicle, causing severe burns over 40 percent of his body and leaving him without a right hand or left arm. While his family marks the anniversary of the day—Sept. 16, 1969—every year, Barrera says, “My real Alive Day was when I married my wife, who gave me a renewed reason to live.” With her support, he went back to school and they started a family. He also found meaningful work with DAV, helping other veterans and their families.

Another Vietnam veteran, Jim Sursely, thought only of sports as a teenager—football, baseball and basketball. But while driving down the street in his Minnesota hometown, he saw a sign that read, “Uncle Sam Needs You.” Sursely went to see an Army recruiter and three months later, was inducted into the military. A year into his service, Sursely stepped on a landmine, immediately losing both his legs and left arm.

After accepting and adjusting to life as a triple amputee, Sursely moved to Florida, where the new construction business brought more accessibility and opportunities in real estate. Today, he and his wife run their family business and he is one of the top real estate professionals in the area. Sursely is proud to say that he enjoys life with his four children, 12 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. And he continues to honor his Alive Day and looks forward to celebrating his 51st next year.

To read more about these and other Alive Day stories and learn about the support available to veterans of all generations, go to www.DAV.org.

SCORES & OUTDOORS: Tale of the turkeys, and the tough times they’ve been through

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is an upland ground bird native to North America. Although native to North America, the turkey probably got its name from the domesticated variety being imported to Britain in ships coming from the Levant via Spain. The British at the time therefore associated the wild turkey with the country Turkey and the name prevails.

Wild turkeys prefer hardwood and mixed conifer-hardwood forests with scattered openings such as pastures, fields, orchards and seasonal marshes. They seemingly can adapt to virtually any dense native plant community as long as coverage and openings are widely available.

Despite their weight, wild turkeys, unlike their domesticated counterparts, are agile, fast fliers. In ideal habitat of open woodland or wooded grasslands, they may fly beneath the canopy top and find perches. They usually fly close to the ground for no more than a quarter mile.

Wild turkeys have very good eyesight, but their vision is poor at night. They will not see a predator until it is too late. At twilight most turkeys will head for the trees and roost well off the ground; it is safer to sleep here in numbers than to risk being victim to predators who hunt by night. Because wild turkeys don’t migrate, in snowier parts of the species’s habitat like the Northeast, it is very important for this bird to learn to select large conifer trees where they can fly onto the branches and shelter from blizzards.

Wild turkeys are omnivorous, foraging on the ground or climbing shrubs and small trees to feed. They prefer eating acorns, nuts and other hard mast of various trees, including hazel, chestnut, hickory, and pinyon pine as well as various seeds, berries such as juniper and bearberry, roots and insects. Turkeys also occasionally consume amphibians and small reptiles such as lizards and small snakes.

Turkey populations can reach large numbers in small areas because of their ability to forage for different types of food. Early morning and late afternoon are the desired times for eating.

Males are polygamous, mating with as many hens as they can. Male wild turkeys display for females by puffing out their feathers, spreading out their tails and dragging their wings. This behavior is most commonly referred to as strutting.

Predators of eggs and nestlings include raccoons, striped skunks, groundhogs, and other rodents. Avian predators of poults include raptors such as bald eagles, barred owl, and Harris’s hawks, and even the smallish Cooper’s hawk and broad-winged hawk.

Predators of both adults and poults include coyotes, gray wolves, bobcats, cougars, Canadian lynx, golden eagles and possibly American black bears.

Occasionally, if cornered, adult turkeys may try to fight off predators, and large male toms can be especially aggressive in self-defense. When fighting off predators, turkeys may kick with their legs, using the spurs on their back of the legs as a weapon, bite with their beak and ram with their relatively large bodies and may be able to deter predators up to the size of mid-sized mammals. Occasionally, turkeys may behave aggressively towards humans, especially in areas where natural habitats are scarce. They also have been seen to chase off humans as well. However, attacks can usually be deterred and minor injuries can be avoided by giving turkeys a respectful amount of space and keeping outdoor spaces clean and undisturbed. Male toms occasionally will attack parked cars and reflective surfaces thinking they see another turkey and must defend their territory. Usually a car engine and moving the car is enough to scare it off.

At the beginning of the 20th century the range and numbers of wild turkeys had plummeted due to hunting and loss of habitat. When Europeans arrived in the New World, they were found from Canada to Mexico in the millions. Europeans and their successors knew nothing about the life cycle of the bird and ecology, itself, as a science would come too late, not even in its infancy, until the end of the 19th century whereas heavy hunting began in the 17th century. Deforestation destroyed trees turkeys need to roost in.

Game managers estimate that the entire population of wild turkeys in the United States was as low as 30,000 by the late 1930s. By the 1940s, it was almost totally extirpated from Canada and had become localized in pockets in the United States. In the northeast they were restricted to the Appalachians, only as far north as central Pennsylvania. Early attempts used hand reared birds, a practice that failed miserably as the birds were unable to survive.

Wild turkeys were once native to Maine but were extirpated in the early 1800s from over-hunting and the clearing of forests along the coast. But in 1978, wild turkey were successfully reintroduced in Maine by state biologists – and the birds have thrived since.

But not everybody is so enthusiastic about the state’s success in reintroducing wild turkeys, which began back in the 1970s in York County. In fact, plenty of Mainers think we have far too many turkeys on the landscape and blame the birds for a variety of ills.

In some parts of the state, there are a lot of turkeys. And though the state deals with few calls about nuisance turkeys, there are places where efforts to limit the number of birds might make sense.

However, these big birds get a bum rap and are blamed for a variety of problems. If you see a flock of turkeys in a blueberry field at noontime, you might blame the birds for eating all the berries. But there are deer, bear, moose, foxes and other critters in that blueberry field at night, doing damage.

“Do we have too many turkeys?”

It all depends on whether the birds are eating your crops, or foiling your attempts to hunt them.

Benjamin Franklin

Had it been up to Benjamin Franklin, the turkey we carve for Thanksgiving dinner might have been our national bird. After the bald eagle won the honor instead, Franklin wrote to his daughter that the turkey was “more respectable” than the eagle, which he thought was “of bad moral character,” calling them lazy, opportunistic predators.

Franklin expressed admiration for the feisty way barnyard turkeys defended their territory, a trait he liked in Americans, too. It’s not clear, however, whether Franklin knew much about wild turkeys, which ran and hid from intruders instead of defending their turf. Indeed, some Apache Indians thought turkeys were so cowardly that they wouldn’t eat them or wear their feathers for fear of contracting the spirit of cowardice.

So Franklin probably wasn’t thinking about the wild turkey when he considered possible symbols of American courage. But the domestic or barnyard turkey he admired did have its origins in America’s wild turkey population.

Aztec Indian tribes had long domesticated wild turkeys for food. Early Spanish explorers discovered these domesticated turkeys and took a few of them back to Europe, where the birds were bred into yet another variety of domestic turkey.

Those European turkeys came to North America with English colonists and were used for food. They are the birds Franklin seems to have preferred over the native bald eagle for our national symbol.

So, even though the bald eagle is the official bird of the United States, much to the chagrin of Benjamin Franklin, it must be pointed out that on Thanksgiving day, the wild turkey is the national “bird of the day,” even though most of us actually consume domesticated turkeys.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

The Buffalo Bills appeared in four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-1993. Has there ever been a team to appear in three in a row?

Answer can be found here.