An Unexpected Guest

As week one of a two-week writer’s retreat slipped into history this afternoon, I lay on the bed half naked and reflected on what I’d learned and experienced in seven days. The radiator in my cabin put off wonderfully soothing heat while constant rain pummeled the roof. I’m not a napper (I have a hard enough time sleeping at night, let alone luxury-resting in the daytime), but I was in a state of partial consciousness. The only sounds were expected— gusts of wind moving branches, the radiator popping as it heated—when suddenly a tremendous pounding scared me into fight mode.

wild turkey
The best pic I could get through the window. When turkeys attack!

Pantsless, I rolled nimbly off the bed and flat onto the floor, no easy feat considering my back was causing me intense pain most of the day. The noise persisted, like a gong being beaten, although not in rhythm. Something was very wrong, and I imagined someone trying to break into my cabin. I crawled on my belly across the floor beneath the line of windows, then cautiously raised my head to assess the threat. Two feet away stood a large, angry turkey. He was squared up with the side of my truck (which was parked almost up against the front door of my cabin), and over and over again he postured, then rammed his beak into the side of the truck. Relieved and shocked, I scrambled for my phone, glad I wouldn’t have to fight off an intruder with the nearby paring knife and wine bottle. I got three pictures and one video through the windows before he took off for parts unknown, apparently unbothered by the ceaseless rain but quite bothered by my truck.

Now, in no particular order, I’ll list a few things I’ve learned in my nine days away from home (seven in the cabin).

  1. Sleeping in the back of a pickup truck isn’t that bad, but closing the tailgate from the inside sucks a lot.
  2. Organic Thai food is awesome and best enjoyed with old friends (thanks, Paula and Sarah).
  3. Back and neck pain and insomnia follow me no matter where/how I live.
  4. Heavily processed food makes me overly emotional.
  5. Wild turkeys are cool birds, although easily agitated.
  6. There are nice people and assholes everywhere.
  7. “Crazy” has many definitions.
  8. I’m not into a lot of the things writers are supposed to be into, and while that sometimes bothers me, mostly it doesn’t anymore.
  9. Being in great shape in northwest Florida is not the same as being in great shape in the mountains, and quadriceps are canaries in the coal mine.
  10. Boiling water in a tea kettle and mixing it with epsom salts and dumping it (after it cools a little) over said quadriceps is somewhat effective but not a panacea.
  11. Some people are very good at lots of things, and I’m lucky that two of them are my friends (hello, Chris and Henry).
  12. While extreme, The Shining is more relatable than ever.
  13. Writing a novel is easier than writing a nonfiction book, so far. No boring facts to overcome.
  14. Some Walmarts are much cleaner than others.
  15. Despite a rather constant push-pull desire to move somewhere else, I miss my home and have no idea where I should realistically consider moving.
  16. Deserted campgrounds are creepy.
  17. Lack of internet isn’t as wonderful as I thought it would be. Especially when I have a question and I’m like how the hell did people get answers before Google?
  18. We have a gorgeous planet and thankfully some parts are still relatively intact.
  19. I hate driving in the mountains.
  20. Cows sometimes roar.

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