At Thanksgiving time this year I’ve found myself working in the St. Johns area. This had me thinking about a turkey I once saw living in a front yard in that neighborhood. The bird seemed to be big and white with multicolored feathers in its back. This was years ago. In my murky memory I tried to figure out what I was doing when I saw the turkey. This might have helped me pinpoint where the turkey had lived. Maybe it was a trip to the dentist that took me past the turkey’s home. The name of the street escapes me, but I do recall the turkey lived close to a corner market that looked like a house. I had to wonder if the turkey was a pet. I suppose any animal that can be tamed in some fashion and express some form of affection has pet potential. Then again the turkey may have been raised for Thanksgiving dinner. I never had a conversation with the turkey or anyone related to the turkey to figure this out.
Turkey display at Phun House.
At this point, I decided to take a trip back in time, in a way, to find the turkey. I found myself on streets that seemed as familiar as unfamiliar – wet leaves, multi-color Portland houses, the pastel green paint jobs jumping out in the dusky afternoon. The sidewalks, empty. Early Christmas decorations intermingled with remainders of Halloween . . . but I couldn’t pinpoint where I had seen the turkey. As my hands grew cold, I gave up. I could have biked around in circles for hours and not found any evidence. On my way home it occurred to me that the dead memories Portland Facebook page would be a good resource. I posted:
Anyone familiar with a turkey that lived or lives in the front yard of a Portsmouth or St. John neighborhood house in North Portland? It had a pen in a yard with a chain link fence. I remember a corner market that looked like a house was in the area. Any cross streets or general location would be helpful. Thanks.
I got some much appreciated responses. There was a funny comment insinuating that I was on the hunt for a free range turkey that could be more easily purchased at Zuppan’s Market. A specific location of N Wall and N Houghton was mentioned so I made plans to return. One thing I was unsure about was whether the turkey had been in the Portsmouth or St. Johns neighborhood. I’m still not clear of the boundaries but I’m going with St. Johns because it has a better ring to it.
A turkey lived around here.
I went back to N Wall and N Houghton. It was on the way home from work. The night before I looked on google maps. Using street view, nothing but the corner market looked familiar. I had to laugh about Easy Street being in the area. I liked the idea of a turkey living on Easy St. Really the idea of anyone living on Easy Street is humorous. My return to the location where I had seen a turkey living in someone’s front yard was a reminder of how much things change. The corner market had been spruced up with new paint and was now a marijuana store. I rode up and down the street in that area looking for the chain link fence from my memory. There was nothing that looked like the living quarters of a turkey.
You can get pot here but not a turkey pot pie.
I could convince myself that the turkey moved away with the family that had taken care of him or her. Any other theory would have bummed me out. Regardless, the turkey of St. Johns doesn’t seem to be around any longer. I’m confident that someday I’ll learn the story of the turkey of St. Johns. I’ve seen other animals in Portland: coyotes on the streets, a rabbit and a couple of cockatiels sharing a chicken coop on N. Killingsworth, I even know the legend of the White Rabbit. I’ll write about that someday. While this might seem on the level of having had a Big Foot sighting, I swear I saw a turkey hanging around in a front yard, waddling, chilling and enjoying life. That memory is the only evidence I have for now.
So in Portland when the sun goes down I ride on an old broken down sidewalk-bike trail watching gray skies roll over industrial warehouse buildings and sense the daydreaming to escape the mundane, and in St. Johns I know now the children must be crying in a neighborhood where they let children cry if they can’t get them to be quiet, and as the stars’ll arrive and don’t you know God is John Cena? the afternoon sun shadows and streaks her rays across the slope, which brings on a night that caresses the earth, envelopes the rivers, holds the peaks and folds the brain creases in and nobody, nobody knows what happened or at least no one is giving up the memory escaped in the continued passing of time, I think of the St. Johns turkey, I think of the old St. Johns turkey I never found, I think of the St. Johns turkey.
Enough turkey talk, time to shop.