Talking Turkey with Mom

It seems like just the other day that I was talking about folks to whom strange things just happen.  Maybe that’s because it was just the other day that I told this story.

I have a secret, though.  I’m not the only person in my family with this, ummm, gift for attracting the strange and humorous.  Dad used to say that if there was a weirdo within 5 miles of him, that weirdo would find Dad and have a nice long chat.  But if something weird was going to happen, well, it would happen to Mom.  Somehow I managed to inherit both weirdness magnets.  Sigh.

But this is Mom’s story.

Mom wasn’t the bird lover in our family.  Dad was.  So I should have known something weird had happened when Mom identified a bird I was looking at from a distance.  Mom and I were driving not far from John’s and my house one day in about 1990, and I pulled over to look at the large birds circling above us.  Back then large predatory birds soaring were still an unusual sight — I always assumed they were eagles.  I mean, what else could it be?  I kept trying to get a good look.

“They’re turkey vultures,” she said with complete certainty.  “We see them all the time at home in Florida.”

You lookin' for me? (Google image, natch)

They weren’t eagles?
(Google image, natch)

Turkey vultures?” I said, not believing her for a minute.  I’d never even heard of such a creature.  Mom pursed her lips and looked back at me, slightly annoyed that I was questioning her (never seen before) bird identification skills.

I should have been suspicious.  I should have know there was a story behind Mom’s sudden large bird expertise.

“They’re really big.  And up close, they really do look just like turkeys.”

“When did you ever get ‘up close’ to a turkey vulture, Mom?”

She tried to avoid the question.

“Mom….” It was never too hard to get Mom to tell her stories.  Something else we have in common.  “Fess up…”

“It wasn’t my fault.  That refrigerator at home is just too small.”


“Well, it happened last Thanksgiving, but I didn’t want to tell you,” she laughed.  “I knew I’d never hear the end of it.”

“Mom …”

“Dad and I went to the grocery store on Saturday, as usual, the weekend before Thanksgiving,” she continued.  “And we bought a frozen turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner.”

“OK.”  I wasn’t catching on.

“Well, it was a frozen turkey.  Frozen solid.  You know it takes days to thaw those things.  You might as well try to melt an iceberg.  I put it into the roasting pan and placed it on the counter to thaw.  But I kept having to move it around that tiny kitchen to do anything else.  Then, on Sunday night when I was making dinner, I needed my counter.  So I put the still rock hard turkey into the carport.”

“Mom, doesn’t your carport get pretty warm?  It is in Florida, after all.”

“Well, that wasn’t really the problem,” she said, laughing.  “Not exactly, anyhow.  Or not at first.  The problem was that I forgot I’d left the turkey there.  I woke up Thursday morning, ready to get started on Thanksgiving Dinner and couldn’t find my turkey!  I thought I was going nuts.  I knew we had bought one.  ‘Where’d you put my turkey?’ I asked your father.  ‘I didn’t do anything with it.  Did it get up and walk away?’ he asked.  And then I remembered – ‘Oh Lord, it’s in the carport.  I hope it’s still OK to eat.’”

“I went out the door to find the carport  filled with turkey vultures.  And you know, they really do look just like turkeys.  They have those red heads and bulging eyes.  They had torn the packaging apart and were eating our Thanksgiving turkey!  I sent your father out to shoo them all away.  And then he had to go to Publix to get something for our feast.”

I roared.  So did she, remembering.

“I told him to get a piece of beef to roast.  I’d had enough birds for a while.”

Mom was absolutely right.  Turkey vultures look a whole lot like turkey turkeys.  Especially after they’ve just had Thanksgiving dinner.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to my fellow ‘Mericans!

To those who aren’t over indulging this week, can I send you a few pounds?


Filed under Conspicuous consumption, Diet tips, Disgustology, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Mom, Wild Beasts

76 responses to “Talking Turkey with Mom

  1. Too funny. They are very common here – they next together and can congregate on buildings in low trees. They are gorgeous from below – their wings are two toned and they soar with ease. They aren’t hunters, scavenging is their things and your moms turkey was perfect for them 🙂


  2. Yikes, who knew you could throw a T-Day celebration for buzzards! Delightful story, Elyse, and Happy Belated Thanksgiving. Warmest regards.


  3. I’ve defrosted a fair number of ducks, (though never a turkey). I normally put them in a bucket of water, which really speeds up the process. But, in the context of your story, I am afraid that this wouldn’t work for your mother either – that turkey would probably have been attacked by shakrs or alligators. 🙂


  4. Okay, so like, are you a blogger or a storyteller or something in between? Do I have to invent a genre for you? I haven’t run across anyone with quite your voice… How odd. I like odd, sure. Happy Thanksgiving I guess. Up north of the border, we are celebrating with snow. And maple syrup. At least I hope that’s maple syrup in the snow…


    • Well, it is a blog, so blogger works. Writer and storyteller work, too. I just write when I feel like it, rant when I feel the need. Glad you like odd, because my blog is a serious mishmash of stuff.

      Thanks for the T-day wish. Now, back to my previously scheduled turkey cooking. Enjoy your non-holiday.


  5. Ha! That’s funny.

    Happy Turkey Day!


  6. cooper

    We have turkey vultures everywhere. You know, I had a similar event that involved a pound of hamburger meat that found it’s way to the bread drawer and started to stink like the dickens. I was the one who put it there to start with – although I didn’t remember doing it – let’s just say I cooked some of the hamburger in a…um…fit of the munchies and must have put it there instead of the freezer in my state of…well…you know.


  7. Great story, Elyse. 🙂 But although it may have not seemed like it at the time, those turkey vultures were doing your Mom a real favor – because if that turkey in the carport smelled rank enough for the turkey vultures to find it, that bird was definitely no longer fit for human consumption!


    • Oh yeah, I know. She would have known, too. She cooked in the days before “expiration dates”! She used her nose. In fact, I imagine the whole neighborhood got a whiff of that turkey dinner!


      • That’s the only good thing about “Foul Fowl”. Your nose will almost always let you know for sure when you’ve got a dirty bird, This story should be a post, but I’ll try to keep it brief.

        Back in the mid 1980s when I was in between marriages and sharing an apartment with my all time best friend, for reasons you already know something about, I boycotted celebrating Christmas two years in a row.

        But my friend who was a Jew, understood better than I did, that I was making myself even more unhappy by refusing to observe Christmas in any way. So the third year, when I was once again going to boycott Christmas, my Jewish friend talked me into celebrating Christmas with just him – supposedly as a favor to him, claiming that it was something he’d really enjoy, since he was never allowed to be a part of the Christmas fun when he was a kid.

        He went out and bought a small artificial Christmas tree, including lights and decorations, and on Christmas morning, he and I exchanged humorous gag gifts. It turned out to be one of the happier Christmas mornings that I’d experienced in years.

        The only thing that went wrong, was that we were going to have a large Purdue oven stuffer roaster chicken for Christmas dinner, but when we opened up the plastic bag that contained the bird, the foul smell almost knocked us both over!

        But after quickly disposing of the extremely Foul Fowl in a dumpster outside, and scrubbing our hands more thoroughly than a couple surgeons in pre-op, we were both quite content with broiling two very large T- Bone steaks from the freezer, and having steak for our Judeo-Christian Christmas dinner instead.

        Sorry for blogging on your blog, Elyse, but that was a story I just had to share right now, and TY for your patience.

        And again, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Elyse. 🙂


  8. That’s hysterical! I love turkey stories and it seems every family has at least one. This one is classic.


  9. Ewwwwww! Vultures pecking away at the turkey. You’re right, of course. You do have some unusual stories. So glad your weirdness magnet is fully functioning, and that you’re willing to share your bountiful riches. I guess my turkey in the bathtub story is fairly tame after this one. 🙂


  10. Pingback: Roast Turkey | The Great American Feast

  11. Snoring Dog Studio

    I learned something here. In cold climates, we think that we can leave food outside when our freezers and fridges get full. Not so much. Tofurkey would have made it to your oven. This is a cautionary tale.


    • Tofurkey will never, ever make it into my oven, SDS. It gives me the willies.

      But I’m baking pies today and I WILL stick them in the garage to keep cool once they have cooled. They will be in containers, though so I don’t have to worry about vultures! Oh, and I’ll keep the door shut.


  12. Hilarious story! I loved it. May we all be truly thankful to the Lord for all He has created us to be and all He has given us. Be blessed today and find a way to bless someone else!


  13. Haha! That is an excellent Thanksgiving story! I love that your Mom put the turkey in the carport to thaw out… BAHAHAHA this is so something that would happen to me; maybe I am a long lost sibling from your family because I most definitely attract weird people and weird situations 🙂


    • She was probably planning on bringing it inside once Sunday dinner was done. I don’t think her carport was a long term thawing plan!

      I’d actually prefer it if you were a long lost cousin, Aussa, and you may well be. Weird things happen to my cousins, too. But my sisters both had sadly short lives so I am a little reluctant to put anybody else in that role. 😦


  14. Your mother fed a bunch of buzzards for Thanksgiving? How generous of her! Those things are seriously ugly and I heard they kinda smell also.

    Still love turkey though, didn’t put me off my dinner at all.


    • My Mom was one of the most hospitable people you would ever have known, had you known her, Val. So it doesn’t surprise me at all that Mom made the turkey vultures welcome. She was that kind of woman. But maybe she didn’t realize that they smelled bad until they were there … she didn’t mention it.

      Glad I didn’t scare you off your Turkey Day dinner. I’m still looking forward to mine, and I looked at a whole lot of pictures of turkey vultures feeding for this piece …

      Happy Thanksgiving, my friend!


  15. Haha! That’s hysterical. Like the Bumpus hounds in The Christmas Story except with gross, wrinkly heads. We have them all over here in Illinois, too. I’ll see big birds circling in the sky and get excited thinking I’m about to witness the majesty of the bald eagle, and it turns out to be Turkey Vulture, party of two at the local Dead Deer Restaurant.

    Happy Thanksgiving Elyse!


    • Isn’t it disappointing when you think you’re going to see something wonderful and it turns out to be a turkey vulture? We have zillions of them around here. I will share with you my bit of turkey vulture trivia, though, since you have so many near you: Wilbur and Orville figured out how to fly by looking at the wing structure of turkey vultures.

      You’re welcome.

      Happy Thanksgiving, Peg. I’ll be thinking of you.


  16. So I suppose that makes them cannibals?…

    Funny story! THOSE are the Thanksgivings we always remember. 🙂


    • I’m not sure, Carrie. If we eat monkey … oh never mind …

      Yeah, my personal holiday meal fiasco involved Beef Wellington … but that’s a story for another day. And another holiday.


  17. Turkey vultures are totally mean and scary looking. I wouldn’t fight one. Yikes!


  18. We have turkey vultures that clean up under our bird feeders. They feast on the sunflower hulls dropped by the birds. We have one that visits most days during the summer around 4 p.m. We call her Georgia. I guess when you see them so often, they don’t look ugly anymore. She was quite graceful with her big butt and little head.


    • It’s nice that you have a cleaning vulture. I think I would like that! We have hawks that enjoy meals at our feeders, but no one cleans up after the birdies but me and John!

      Around where I live now, we see them all the time. It’s a low density — high deer area. So they are always feasting next to the road! And while I would love to have your Georgia come and clean for me, I think her siblings and cousins are u-g-l-y!

      Happy Thanksgiving!


  19. Best Thanksgiving Story ever!


  20. Oops! Ha ha. That sounds like something my mother would do. Happy Thanksgiving, Elyse!


  21. Second best turkey vulture story I’ve heard.

    Happy thanksgiving, Elyse.


  22. For those who don’t know, turkey vultures are also called buzzards… and another day to celebrate is March 15th when the Buzzards return to Hinckley.

    Thanks for the great mom story … and Happy Thanksgiving to your wonderful household.


  23. bigsheepcommunications

    Turkey vultures are so creepy and sinister looking. Every winter, they congregate on a water tower in our town or in the nearby trees. Caught them feasting on a deer carcass by the road last week. Eeww. Oh, and happy Thanksgiving 😀


    • Thanks, Lisa.

      Yeah, those birds are seriously ugly. And they are getting more and more plentiful around here. I see them all the time. Yuck. In defense of turkey vultures, though, Lisa, I can tell you my favorite bit of useless knowledge: Wilbur and Orville figured out how to fly by looking at turkey vultures. Of course, they probably didn’t do it near Thanksgiving.

      Happy Turkey Day!


  24. Ha! Way too funny, and gross. Happy Thanksgiving to you.


  25. “So I put the still rock hard turkey into the carport.” ha! Well, of course, naturally! Great story. And a very happy thanksgiving to you and yours, Elyse.


  26. Ooh, that’s put me off Turkey a bit, but luckily in the Uk, I’ve got a bit of time to get over that before Christmas


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