As a harbinger of spring I'm not sure that the return of turkey vultures to the vicinity of Redbud Creek Farm ranks right up there with sighting one's first robin or the return of the swallows to Capistrano in the minds of most people, but I think it's kind of special. Here at the Farm the vultures usually arrive in early March when the lengthening days and intensifying sun hint of an impending spring, though most other changes are still quite subtle and the landscape is at its bleakest. For me concentrating on some task at or near ground level, my first glimpse of the creatures is often the result of silent movement in my midst, a shadow racing across the land at the periphery of my vision or sometimes right across my work area. Instinctively I follow the movement. Before I actually see the moving shadow's source, I'm pretty sure that it will be a turkey vulture or two and as I see the large bird or birds wheeling on a sun heated air current, I experience a bit of joy.

Growing up in DuPage County as the land was changed from agricultural to suburban in the 1960s, I don't remember ever seeing a single turkey vulture. Turkey vultures really entered my consciousness on the cusp of adulthood. A few days after graduating from college I left home to go backpacking in New Mexico. On one of those legendarily lovely mid-May days, driving the width of the state of Missouri on the interstate successor to Route 66, I was repeatedly amazed with almost continual sightings of groups of turkey vultures wheeling, soaring, and gliding above the intensely verdant, fresh, rolling land beneath a cloud-flecked blue sky. The following day I entered New Mexico and learned that the next ten days or so would be spent driving and mostly hiking in the "land of enchantment," and I put a new word in my working vocabulary--enchantment.

Enchantment implies some element of change, a bewitching, a transformation, a new reality. When you experience enchantment you are charmed or thrilled or somehow compelled to experience the ordinary in a slightly different way. That day across Missouri was special, filled with elements of achievement, hope, celebration and simple joy in the moment. Those elements in some way left a bit of blank canvas in my mind on which those big birds, so ungainly up close but so majestic in flight, ended up being permanently painted. Whenever I see turkey vultures in flight, but especially as they return in early spring, my mind somehow dredges up that old canvas and yet again the wonder of that day adds to the joy of the moment watching music in the sky. Ah--enchantment.

Jeanne Vaver
3/9/2012 02:25:42 am

Larry - I'm so glad that you now have a venue for your writing! It's a gift to share.

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12/3/2015 07:31:37 pm

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