Every morning, headed to work, I drive south on Route 97, a winding, two-lane road through hilly central Maryland, passing pastures of horses, cows, goats, alpaca. I spot wildlife of deer and fox, now and then a hawk, maybe a cat staring down a field mouse. I call out to them to be careful, stay clear of the road, be safe. They don’t always listen.
After ten miles of a gradual descent, I slow down to rumble over the railroad ties and drive across the narrow bridge over the Patapsco River before accelerating to make the first steep grade out of the ravine, following the sharp “S” curves. Ahead I see brake lights and slow down, hoping the rock hauler behind me is doing the same. Peering around the cars in front of me, I spot a flock of wild turkeys. Three or four of them have ducked under the guardrail and scrambled onto the road.
They have taken the pedestrian route to this spot – an arduous climb, almost straight up, even a struggle to fly, if a bird were so inclined. Their heads bobble as they inspect their surroundings, surely wondering if they’ve arrived at their intended destination as vehicles creep by.
I lightly tap my horn, trying to shoo them out of the road without scaring them. They don’t even flinch. Another light tap and one turkey cocks its head, crooking its neck till one eye peers skyward.
By now, two of the turkeys have turned away from the cars and are aiming back toward the railing, just when another turkey head, gray and smooth, pops up over the edge of the hill.
“Phew. That was a climb.” She spots her birds of a feather headed toward her. “Wait! We just came from there!”
As I drive slowly by I call out to the one listening heavenward. “What are you doing in the road, you silly goose?”