Greetings one and all. If you are sitting comfortably I shall begin. Yes, readers, it’s the 400th edition of “Bird’s Eye View by Turkey Vulture” and as you can see by the photograph I don’t look a day over 399! To celebrate this auspicious occasion, not only am I expecting a letter from the President*, but also I am pleased to share with you this poignant ode, by D. Bottoms, to Turkey Vultures everywhere. (*President of the Independent Career Women (ICW) of Anderson Valley, that is).
We have all seen them circling pastures,
Have looked up from the mouth of a barn, a pine clearing,
The fences of our own backyards, and have stood
Amazed by the one slow wing beat, the endless dihedral drift.
But I had never seen so many so close, hundreds,
Every limb of the dead oak feathered black, and I cut the engine,
Let the river grab the jon boat and pull it toward the tree.
The black leaves shined, the pink fruit blossomed
Red, ugly as a human heart.
Then, as I passed under their dream, I saw for the first time
Its soft countenance, the raw fleshy jowls
Wrinkled and generous, like the faces of the very old
Who have grown to empathize with everything.
And I drifted away from them, slow, on the pull of the river,
Reluctant, looking back at their roost,
Calling them what I'd never called them, what they are,
Those dwarfed transfiguring angels,
Who flock to the side of the poisoned fox,
The mud turtle crushed on the shoulder of the road,
Who pray over the leaf-graves of the anonymous lost,
With mercy enough to consume us all and give us wings.
* * *
It’s all right. I cried too. And to complete this special occasion’s words of wisdom, here are a couple of things for you to digest.
As I’ve said many times, despite what you may think, it’s not all glamour being a Turkey Vulture but we do get many compliments. My favorite comes from no less an expert than Charles Darwin who said about us Turkey Vultures, “A disgusting bird whose bald scarlet head is formed to wallow in putridity.” Thank, you Charles, how kind. And furthermore, try to remember, we Turkey Vultures are Nature’s Garbage Collectors, an honorable profession, if I do say so myself. So even if some folks say nasty things about us, we know that sticks and stones can break our bones but words can never hurt us — unless of course somebody hits me with a really heavy, hardcover dictionary.
Hard to believe but there is an even more significant Valley event than this 400th column that has been celebrated this week: the birthday of Freda Fox. The Valley’s oldest resident was born on 26th March 1918 and that makes her 96-years young. She once shared with me this piece of advice, written on a card hanging in her kitchen, that she that has tried to follow: “Accept the things you cannot change, have the courage to change the things you can, and possess the wisdom to know the difference.” Wise words from a wonderfully wise woman and I’m sure we all wish her Many Happy Returns!
Public Service Announcements. Calendars and pens at the ready. #683. This is a last minute item so hopefully you see it in time. The Agriculture Science class at Anderson Valley High School is going to be raising laying pullets for sale. If you are interested please contact teacher Beth Swehla today, April 2nd. The price per bird will be determined after they know the size of the order. It will not be over $10 per bird. Possible varieties available to order: Naked Neck, Black Australorp, Rhode Island Red, Black Sex Link, Barred Rock, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Buff Orpington, and Americana. Call Beth in her classroom at the high school at 895-2514. #684. If you wish to check out the Cloverdale Fiddle Festival, Saturday, April 5, then the Senior Center is organizing a bus trip there and back. $20 covers transport and the festival. If interested contact the Senior Center at 895-3609 or the bus at 489-1175. #685. The Barn Sale returns this weekend for its usual spring, summer, and fall run after a four-month hiatus. This takes place at The St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church Refectory on AV Way just north of Boonville from 9am to 3pm on both Saturday and Sunday, April 5 and 6. #686. The Mendocino Bookmobile is in town next Tuesday, April 8. They are in the Valley on alternate Tuesdays for 45 minutes at each of these places and times: Navarro Store 9am; (then off to Comptche); back to the Valley at Floodgate 12.30pm; Philo 1.30pm; Boonville (Apple Hall) 2.30pm. Their next visit will be Tuesday, April 22. Phone 463-4694 for further details. #687. The Vets from the Mendocino Animal Hospital will be making two visits to the Valley this month. Those will be Thursdays, April 10 and 24 and as always the venue and times are the AV Farm Supply from 2-3.30pm.
Here’s the menu for the next week at the Senior Center at the Veterans Hall in Boonville. The Center asks for a $6 donation from Seniors for both lunches and dinners and $7 for Non-Seniors for lunches and $8 for the dinners. Tomorrow, Thursday, April 3rd, the lunch, always served by Marti Titus and her crew at 12.15pm, will be Oven Fried Fish and Potatoes, Cornbread Muffins, Spinach & Strawberry Salad, Tabouleh Salad, and Lemon Bars for dessert. Then, next Tuesday evening, April 8 at 6pm, the dinner will feature Pineapple Pepper Chicken, Rice Broccoli, Wheat Berry Salad, Raspberry Gelatin, with Carrot Cake for dessert. As this is the 2nd Tuesday of the month, the dinner will be followed by Bingo at 7pm. Hopefully you will be able to attend, and remember, ALL ages are welcome! Hope to see you there.
Moving quickly on to a few of the topics and Valley events under discussion this week at The Three-Dot Lounge: “Moans, Groans, Good Thoughts, and Rampant (and surprisingly reliable) Rumors” from my favorite gathering place in the Valley.
…Gloria Ross, Mike Brendlen, Kristy Kramer, Bill Sterling, Anne-Marie and “Junior” Mendoza at the Farm Supply, and Anne Fashauer. Just a few of the local folks who, for me, made last Tuesday a very pleasant day in the Valley.
…Bruce McEwen, my #1 fan and yet a good man, wrote a letter to the newspaper last week soliciting my assistance in finding out the lowest point on Highway 253 between Boonville and Ukiah. Well, Bruce, after extensive research I can inform you that the answer is Anderson Creek, at the bridge as you leave Boonville and start “heading over the hill.” When the highway reaches Ukiah it is at a much higher elevation, even at Robinson Creek. Ukiah’s altitude, the one in which you spend most of your working week, probably explains your headaches, confusion, and general disorientation, not unlike that experienced by a climber on Everest, or a very inebriated person on a swing.
…The Community Alliance Newsletter, produced every quarter thanks to the efforts of Suzy Miller (and Jimmy Humble) will be missed by many now that they have “retired.” This information sheet, with its list of Valley events, meetings, organizations, and services, was a very useful community tool, and one has to hope that somebody will volunteer to carry it on.
…Oops, I forgot. Unless I am mistaken as to some of their primary functions, isn’t this a good fit for our Chamber of Commerce? Certainly the events section of that Newsletter would seem to be. The Chamber’s Events page is certainly in need of some sort of boost, featuring, as it does, the regular Grange functions, the Farmers” Market, an occasional Valley gathering, and little else. The Valley’s social calendar is extensive and many of the goings-on could be included so that the loss of the Newsletter would be somewhat offset. I’m just sayin’.
…What’s all the fuss about? Self-ies / Us-ies. Those photographs taken by ourselves, of ourselves with friends, are all the rage and discussed as if the wheel has been re-discovered. Some of us have been taking these for over 40 years. We just didn’t know the name of what we were doing!
This week our 3-Dot regular, The Old Buzzard, will not be presenting his insightful series. “Signs that the Apocalypse is Approaching.” He is undercover on assignment. There is no truth whatsoever to the rumor that he and his cohorts are attempting to sabotage a frost protection fan or two. I couldn’t possibly say any more than perhaps they are simply studying the night sky and, coincidentally, they have found a good spot to do this among the vines at Golden Buttocks vineyard in the Floodgate area.
I’m outtahere. I’ve got see a man about a sheep. So, until we talk again, Keep the Faith; be careful out there; stay out of the ditches; think good thoughts; relax in the knowledge that the hare has returned safely to his burrow; and may your god go with you. A final request: Let us prey. Humbly yours, Turkey Vulture. PS. Contact me with words of support/abuse through the Letters Page or at email@example.com. PPS. On the sheep, Grace. … Hi, Silver Swan, behaving yourself? Hopefully not! … Bobwhite Quail, keep up the knitting!