Friday, April 6, 2012

My Life as a Turkey, Joe Hutto

My Life as a Turkey is a beautiful, entertaining, even enlightening video. The title is not metaphoric. Joe Hutto purposely incubated about 18 wild turkey eggs then made sure that the hatchlings immediately imprinted him as their mother. He raised them, lived with them from dawn to dusk for over a year as they grew. He literally learned to "talk turkey" -- understood and made their vocalizations. He saw, as all parents do, the subtle and sometimes not so subtle differences in the personalities of each individual. When the turkeys, like human children, reached an age of independence and went their own ways, Hutto realized that the extensive notes he had made during the experience would make a good book and movie. SO: he did the same thing all over again and was filmed for the period. The film is beautiful! And it is deeply moving, full of lessons about our misperceptions about other creatures. Most memorably Hutto said during the movie,"I learned we do not have a privileged access to reality." He learned the turkey's reality which is without a sense of future, they live in the present as humans rarely do although many of us strive to learn.

The poem I want to share today says somewhat the same thing. Wendell Berry, a rural man (from Kentucky) knows some of what this movie was saying and he says it eloquently.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world and am free.


Bev Sykes said...

I'm assuming you have read the work of Konrad Lorenz. That was the first time I heard of imprinting. I have gone on to discover it myself by fostering orphan puppies and realizing the responsibility of being a good role model for them!

Rubye Jack said...

What a great way of living Joe Hutto found living with turkeys. For a little while anyway. Perhaps this should be a required school course for a semester or so, send college kids off to the turkey farm so they can learn to stay in the moment.

June Calender said...

Yes, Bev, I read Lorenz ages ago. Joe H. truly proves the idea.

Thanks Rubye, for commenting. I certainly thinks kids need something to attune them to nature, almost nothing in their world is natural, it's all virtual and I think we'd agree that just doesn't cut it.