Well, that was fun. We enjoyed a relatively uneventful trip up to visit Uncle and Aunt and all the tiny horses at the miniature stud, earlier this week. Well, you know, I still had to drive through Gympie but since we were enthralled by a game of ‘I Spy Something That’s Not A Gun Shop Or A Redneck” I was too busy to even wince.
The journey home was strange, though, at a bare minimum with surreal flashes. There was debate at the gate, which I won with my “If it’s shut when you get there, leave it shut” argument.
Rarely do I taste victorious vindication at all, let alone almost immediately, but less than 30 metres down the track we encountered a heifer who was reluctant to share the road.
“Lucky I made you shut the gate.” I observed, smug as a cat with a mouthful of budgie. I crawled the car up, to ease past her.
“See, Mumma – I told you there were feral cows!” said Elf Boy, who’d spent a chunk of the day chasing the neighbours’ cattle out of Aunt’s mini-horse paddocks.
“Arrgh! It’s got horns! It’s going to charge the car!!” screeched Magic Man, who has inherited his Great Uncle’s distrust of large livestock.
“Blow the horn!” cried Elf Boy.
“Don’t blow the horn!!” countered his brother.
“My paintwork!” said Mother.
Maybe it was the horns on my radiator grille (Toyota symbol on Mother’s wagon), or perhaps the steely glare I fired at her through the windscreen, but the heifer grudgingly shuffled to the side so I could pass.
All good through the level crossing and past the pub, until we got to a stretch between farms, about halfway to the highway. It was wettish from the showers, and the usual narrow, patchy, soft shouldered goat track, but conditions were no worse than usual and I know the road pretty well. Round a gentle bend, four scrub turkeys seemed to be having a union meeting, right on the verge. Well, that or they’d heard about vultures and thought they’d give it a try – there was a lot of road kill scattered about.
Having learned not to underestimate the ability of the scrub turkey to annoy – and destroy – I slowed down from 80 odd clicks to just over 60 to pass the . . . what’s the collective noun for scrub turkeys: a scraping; a cabal? I think I’ll go with “devastation”. Three of the turkey’s high-tailed it for the paddock, away from my vehicle, but the forth, either braver or much, much stupider than his mates ran out under my wheels. He fluttered up in a flight attempt that was more like something you’d see from a septuagenarian gymnast trying to relive the glory days. He achieved just enough of a twisting leap before I hit him full on, that he smacked into the windscreen dead ahead of me. I hunched down, sure he’d shatter the glass, yanking my right foot back to resist the urge to slam on the brakes on the wet.
The score: No skid, no screams, not even time for me to curse, no damage to Mother’s car, journey continued without further incident. And our feathered friend? According to Magic Man, who watched his dismount through the rear screen, he shook himself to settle his feathers back into place and wandered off, not only unharmed but seemingly unperturbed.
Maybe it was just a random event. Perhaps this turkey’s turkey was just a very dull example of a species known more for persistence than intelligence. Or his acquired taste for carrion caused a strain of Mad Bird Disease to express itself in suicidal behaviour. I can’t escape the gnawing suspicion that we survived a deliberate – hell, orchestrated – plan by Greybeard and his evil minions to wipe out, not only me but all of my offspring and even the Mother who bore me. Revenge for a certain Medieval Archery Incident of more than a year ago, a vengeance so cold they probably hired Ötzi The Glacier Mummy as a consultant co-conspirator. Try again, big fella.