Think dirty fuzzy baseballs with points on both ends and dancing around on toothpicks. Add cute, and multiply by six. That's what I saw along the edge of the freeway this afternoon. Add in Mama turkey, and you nearly have the complete story. It's missing the why - as in what on earth were they doing in such a dangerous spot? - and the what happens next parts, but I was passing at a pretty high rate of (legal) speed, and any attempt to stick around for the rest of the story might have actually caused the rest of the story, and not in a good way.
Fast forward a few hours in time and a few dozen miles to a different road. This time I had time to hit the brakes and steer around Mama turkey. A different Mama, and almost unrecognizable as such at first. She was a dark horizontal form, head stretched low over first one and then another of ... well, think dirty fuzzy pancakes scattered across the lane, and a couple less flattened tossed haphazardly around on the shoulder. Think about one breeding season for naught, except maybe for a lesson learned about highways for next year's brood. This story ends in a mystery, of course, for we're too late on the scene to know the how of it. Were they crossing? Pecking their way along the shoulder when wheels too close scattered the first of them and chaos finished the job?
Don't tell me animals can't mourn. This turkey mom was obviously inspecting each one of her decimated brood, even at risk of her own life. My last view of her in my mirror before I rounded the curve was as the car behind me, not quite so keen as I was to veer to avoid her, shooed her unceremoniously off onto the shoulder, temporarily at least to a more secure safety.
Two pair adults, a dozen young, six known safe when last seen. The math still ends on the side of better than replacement odds for the year. So far. There's a lot of season left. And hopefully a lot of seasons left. History says they're staging a comeback. Just not on the roadways, please.