The week started out cold. Large icicles hung from the eaves, sparkling in the morning sun. They are always a pretty sight as they frame the window. It has warmed up, though, so the icicles are shrinking quickly. Seems like it snows whenever it warms up, and sure enough, we got three or four more inches of new snow through the week.
Wild turkeys are busy in winter. I see them often on their daily jaunts through the snow in search of food. Turkeys range far as they forage, and you never know where you might see a flock in January—valley, ridge, field, tree, road or backyard. I’ve even seen them on the roof.
But the turkey I spotted today in the snow-covered corn stubble wasn’t moving at all, because it was dead. A pair of adult bald eagles stood on the carcass. Dark turkey feathers were scattered around. The eagles relocated in a nearby willow tree and patiently waited for the car to pass so they could return to their turkey breakfast. I don’t know how the turkey met its demise. It may have been hit by a car or flew into a power line. One of the eagles might have got lucky and caught it, but there didn’t seem to be enough loose feathers around to indicate that kind of a struggle. It’ll be yet another unsolved mystery, but it’s still fun to speculate. As a rule, bald eagles catch fish and are good at it, but they’re best at scavenging. Their cousins, the golden eagles, are very good at hunting live prey.
When shoveling snow yesterday morning I saw a flock of small birds land in the cottonwood tree in the meadow. They were too far away for me to tell what kind of birds they were. I grabbed my camera and headed for the cottonwood tree. As I drew closer, I could hear the familiar, high-pitched songs of cedar waxwings. I was able to get a few pictures of them before they flew off in the close formation that is typical of a flock of cedar waxwings. Waxwings are rather shy birds, rarely come close to the house and never come to my birdfeeders, so I have learned to enjoy hearing and seeing them at a distance.
I paid a visit to some of my Amish neighbors this afternoon. When I pulled into the farmyard, there were three teams of draft horses, each hooked up to wagons near an outbuilding. The wagons were loaded with larges blocks of ice that had been cut from a nearby spring pond. The Amish farmers store the ice blocks in an underground room that is insulated with saw dust. When stored this way, the ice can last well into summer. These ground cellars are used to chill a variety of foods, such as milk, butter, meat, cider or whatever needs to kept cold.
Seeing the ice wagons took me back to when I was a boy, when some folks still used ice boxes instead of electric refrigerators. I remember the man who delivered ice from house to house. He would use a large pair of ice tongs to carry a block into the house. If the block was too big to fit into our small ice box, he set the block in a galvanized tub. My job was to chisel the block down to pieces small enough to fit in the ice box. It was one of the more fun chores I had way back then. The ice man would return about every ten days with a new block of ice for the ice box, even in summer. I always looked forward to his arrival, especially in the heat of summer.
Little did I know how much I would miss the ice man and the other delivery men who stopped at the house on a regular basis, bringing ice, coal, milk and butter. I even remember the old truck driven by the Pots and Pans Man. He would pick up pots and pans that needed mending. He also sharpened saws, knives or scissors.
They’ve all gone the way of the shoe repairman, the barber and the doctor who made house calls. They may be gone, but they are a part of who I am today, and partly responsible for the sense of community that was a role model for my life.
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