Cambrian: Slice of Life

You silly turkey. You are mean and ornery, but you sure do make me laugh

Kathe Tanner
Kathe Tanner

Yes, I’ve written before about our wild turkey flock, especially the hilarious sight of a small cat stalking the birds in our meadow, and the mental image of what the silly feline might try to do if it actually caught one of the large, cantankerous birds.

But a recent payback-is-gnarly sequel to that had me laughing so hard I could barely stand up. (More about that later.) Uproarious laughter like that — until your cheeks hurt and your sides ache — can be one of the most restorative, healing things you can do. Even the much respected, seriously somber Mayo Clinic agrees.

Mayo says “Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke.”

The site explains that in the short term, laughter activates and relieves stress response, soothes tension and stimulates many of the body’s organs. In the long term, a good case of the chuckles may improve your immune system, relieve pain and increase personal satisfaction.

Oh yes, and it improves your mood. Duh.

There’s one problem: Getting more giggles and guffaws into your life may be tough to do in these stressful times, with rampaging personal and political angst, health problems, work concerns, long commutes and never-ending to-do lists. But you CAN do it, and you’ll more than double your pleasure if you giggle with a friend. How?

Watch a funny movie, then go for coffee (or a beer) and rehash the good, awful and genuinely hilarious moments. Browse through the comic-card section together at the store. Go to a comedy club. Flip through old “Far Side” or “Calvin and Hobbes” books. Revisit your childhood and play “Twister.”

Let your grandkids tickle you. Go bowling. Go roller skating. Try to play flashlight Frisbee. Play pickleball. Heck, even saying pickleball makes me giggle.

Funny stuff online? Oh, yeah, lots of it. I like the Dry Bar Comedy website because most of the comedians are, indeed, funny and their material doesn’t include the “F” word in every other sentence. (Richard Pryor and George Carlin could pull off that foulmouthedness and still be hilarious, but few others can.)

Online comedy’s a great way to end the day. Husband Richard and I often share-watch some comedy sketches I’ve saved (when Facebook cooperates) or that I find online on my own (when Facebook’s being wonky).

Add a good dance routine or two, some funny memes shared by friends and family... and we two can sleep with smiles on our faces and in our dreams. By daybreak, our hilltop Cambria meadow once again becomes a hotbed of creature comedy, like the kitten-versus-turkey episode or a bobcat flipping us off.

Now, I try not to interact with the creatures that use our meadow for bed-and-breakfast privileges. We certainly don’t feed them, although we do have a small trough of water that doubles as a fauna and avifauna drinking pond and bird bath.

But some members of the wildlife community obviously didn’t get the keep-your-distance memo. For instance, the turkeys. They’re just plain comical, and they make me giggle.

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Wild turkeys in Cambria, California. Kathe Tanner

Turkeys waddle funny and fly funnier. They gobble goofy and then grumble at us. They shake their heads and stomp their feet, chase each other and us. I don’t think they like us.

The turkeys wander wherever they want to, especially along the edges of our tree-lined property and in our garden and driveway areas. Unfortunately, the driveway is where vehicles park, and the turkeys don’t much like those, either.

They’ll circle a car, heads cocked to show that they’re not quite sure what it is, but it’s in their way and they’re mad, so they peck at it, which is not allowed, do you hear me, Big Bird? No, huh?

The turkeys react fiercely to any smoothly shiny hubcap, cussing and pecking away at their own reflections in the polished chrome surface. Have you ever tried to chase away a turkey? It doesn’t work. And the predictable result — turkey turning the tables and chasing me — is distressing at best. Even if it is funny.

Then there was the incident that had me doubled over with laughter. A very large, obviously outraged male turkey was in full display-and-attack mode — tail feathers spread and shaking with fury, wings akimbo. The indignant bird was gobbling away furiously in the middle of the road as he faced off with... wait for it... a Mission Country Disposal trash truck.

Sorry, Big Bird. You lose.