The Catskill Mountains are not mountains. The Catskills started as a high plateau. Over eons, before the first humans, water, the sun, and wind carved high steep peaks: rounded, forested and teeming with life.
October 2008, on a return trip from my Mother’s house on Long Island, we traveled the winding road called “Route 17”, through the high autumn hillsides, one of our last trips to see her. She broke her hip on New Year’s and lived with me and my sisters until her 2013 passing.
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We left Long Island early afternoon, as the sun passed over the western hills we stopped to explore a place called “Fishs Eddy”, a town on the banks of the Delaware River.
On the east side, facing sunset is a formation that would be a cliff if it was not for the hardwood trees growing from every available nook, crevice. Everywhere a root could be sunk, roots fed trees that, one late October afternoon, made a hill bright with autumn.
Turkeys live in this type of habitat. We took a trail, barely a road that climbed past failed farms and hunting shacks.
The Hens Flee
On a level place, in front of a ruined home, we came upon a Tom (male) turkey and his four hens. The hens fled at the sight of us.
With barely time to raise the camera I caught Tom and the last hen as she fled into the bushes.
Tom Turkey Defiant
I say she, because Tom stayed behind. He stood erect, all three feet of him, defiant and strutting in a direction opposite from the hens.
This is the bird Benjamin Franklin proposed as the national emblem of the new United State of America (the bald eagle won that competition).
Hunted into almost oblivion, across the United States the wild turkey is making a dramatic come back in many places, including the forests and farmland of rural New York State.
This fellow made no noise. His strutting posture and head bobbing said it all.
We left Tom Turkey in peace to his domain and hens.
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