Today began early as pink skies lured me out of bed.


I brewed coffee and sat on the deck with a cup. Early morning light. Good hot bitter coffee. The day ahead.

I left the house for a long walk — the walk I describe in detail in my essay “Walking the Body-Mind” (Saltfront, Spring 2017). An old, old woman was walking up the hill toward me, unsteady on two trekking poles. It was my neighbor, the neighbor who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro just a few years ago. We stopped and talked and I learned she had had a bad relapse of an earlier inexplicable condition and was trying to walk her way back to health. I left her and revised the riddle of the Sphinx: what goes on four legs in the morning, on two at noon, and on four in the evening. And I saw my future.

Later in the walk I came across ten turkeys (the number a matter of fact rather than an excuse for alliteration). Ten wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), ten strutting rather than galloping turkeys. They cross the path in front of me and then drop into a copse of oakbrush, unhurried but appropriately wary. Ten heads peek over a little ridge, ten silver heads accented by triangular red flags under their chins. Bright black eyes, ten of them as they watch me from the side, note my passing.

A couple of days ago, at about the same place, a turkey hen crossed in front of me, followed closely by seven little turkeys about one-quarter her size (half the size of the little ones in this photo from a couple of years ago). A second hen is next in line, followed by three more little ones, all followed by a third hen. I approached where they had crossed the trail, thinking of the careful order, admiring the protective strategy . . . and at my feet one more little one breaks across the trail, an adventurous straggler.


Back home, showered, it was time to take our little cat Bella to the vet for a blood test to be sent to her dermatologist in Salt Lake. Yes, she has a dermatologist, without whose expertise Bella would have no fur. We know that by experience.

The vet’s office was bedlam. Every seat in the waiting room taken. Standing pet owners against every wall. Dogs and cats voicing their disquiet, their pain, their aggressions. After checking in, Bella and I find a corner. Time passes. A vet tech in bright orange follows a crying woman through a door, follows her through the waiting room and out to the parking lot, trying to explain something, trying to console the crying woman. Two men, obviously skinny father and skinny son, argue with the receptionist about a $90 bill while their undernourished, skinny-legged hound pisses on the floor and then squats to poop. The older man wears a shirt printed with pictures of the constitution and the statement, repeated 50 times: WE THE PEOPLE. The younger man wears a T-shirt that says DOES MY FLAG OFFEND YOU? CALL 1-800-LEAVE THE USA. $90! the older man says while his dog slips in its shit. For what? Should have never come here. The patriots leave. A woman with a mop and bucket cleans the floor. A vet-tech takes Bella for her blood test. He returns with her. I pay our bill: $89.90. We’re patriots too, I tell Bella. The woman still stands crying in the parking lot.

At home I write — the approximate biography of Zarko my task this week. I help Lyn re-pot a tall cactus. The afternoon stretches on. Bella throws up her dinner. We all three sit on the east deck and watch this evening’s clouds, patriots all.


About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at http://works.bepress.com/scott_abbott/
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7 Responses to pisspooppatriots

  1. Philip Garrison says:

    So fine! Patriots all! Ben Franklin’s turkeys in a cameo role!


  2. Alex caldiero says:

    This morning getting ready for our walk
    .there s a path nearby. We see a different species of turkey…unlike yours up where you live. It s hard. Our walk never seems to get easier. Nor is it pleasant. Am thinking of my dear cat Charlie. Recently deceased. Am still broken hearted. Set and i would each other by the hand. And we walk. People think we are young lovers. But we are just each other’s walking stick…to keep from falling…no one can solve our riddle….the sphinx is silent.


    • Scott Abbott says:

      you are up early! easier? no. we’re facing constant geological upthrust. nothing we can do about that. and broken hearts don’t pump blood the way they used to. young lovers give way to … to what? to partners with a deep history. to members of a family. to participants in an unsolvable riddle. better if the sphinx remains silent


  3. alex caldiero says:

    out the door (when we can make it) the earlier the better…before the heat sets in…before gravity sets in…before all the turkeys in their bikes or in their jogging suits take over the path…but there are redeeming qualities to our walk…we note the number of squashes on the vines in some body’s garden and the their rate of growth, and the planted fields are ever thicker with what ever was planted…cant tell from our vantage-point…At home…I cant muster up the will to mow…Set waters the flowers and the tomatoes (we grow em in pots poised on cinderblocks, so we dont havta do any weeding). this morning…good news…in a few days one of the tomatoes will be ready to eat…


    • Scott Abbott says:

      yes, those two-legged unfeathered turkeys. plenty of those up here. haven’t had a real tomato yet this year. some fresh corn. we have to co-exist with the deer and are loathe to build high fences, although we do have some barbed wire expertise. it’s been fun writing about Zarko, slow going, surprising. hope to be done before school starts again. Nate and family heading to China for the year today — good job at an international school. Ben and family returning from France next week, starting a job at BYU. Tom and Bix coming for a visit in a week. It will be a busy few weeks.


  4. alex caldiero says:

    …it’s all good…..


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