Sometimes in good weather after I’ve delivered Quetzal to school, I take the long way home. And often on these drives I pass an elderly man out for his morning walk. He’s close to ninety years, I’d say, bent and a bit shaky, but alert and still active.
This morning when I passed the man, he was standing in the grass just down the hill from his house. He was looking at something off in the distance. Curious, I slowed down to see, too. It was turkeys, four wild turkeys perched on a section of woven-wire fencing. Two were looking west towards road, and two were looking east towards the morning sun. The man, hearing my Jeep on the road behind him, turned slowly around, grinned, and jerked his thumb knowingly over his shoulder.
“Turkeys on a fence,” I said.
“Two both ways,” he said.
“Fore and aft,” I said.
“Fore and aft,” he said, laughing outright.
We looked a bit longer in silence, and then I waved and he waved, and then I drove slowly on. But now with a slight pain in my chest. Maybe you know what I’m referring to. That momentary discomfort that happens sometimes when life is too beautiful. Or too sad. Or too beautiful and sad at the same time.
Woodcut by Melvyn Evans