Do you ever get visitors that just turn up, decide they like your house and are going to stay? Strangely enough, we’ve had two recently. I’m wondering if there’s truth in the idea of “Wait, and the teacher will come to you”. I’ve been doing a bit of hanging around home lately and, as I say, two visitors have come to me.
The first was a large brown hen. It appeared when we were sitting out in the garden having a cup of tea. And stayed. And stayed. It was very sociable and interested in all we were doing. If we sat out with a book, it came and peered at it. When we had morning tea, it liked to join in around the table. Sophie, the dog, tried to interest it in a game, dropping the throw toy at its feet, and then picking it up and shaking it, as if to say “come on, it’s easy – this is how it’s done!”. Sadly, to Sophie’s disappointment, the hen didn’t seem to want to play. If we were inside, the hen would climb the steps and wander in to the lounge room. At night, it slept under a bush.
We couldn’t find its owner, and in the end, we gave it away to some people down the street who have a little permaculture haven in their suburban yard, with vegetables, a pond and a bee-hive, and hens free-ranging happily around. If there is a lesson to be learnt from that hen, I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s saying if you long for something – a different way of life perhaps – don’t wait at home for it – go out and find it.
The second visitor that has come uninvited and stayed on is a bush turkey. If you don’t know these birds, they are a ridiculous looking creature, and they make an equally ridiculous sound. However, to their credit, they are incredibly industrious.
Male bush turkeys are known for the huge mounds they construct and then go to great lengths to maintain. These mounds are built of leaf litter, twigs, branches, and anything in the vicinity they can find to scrape up. They measure a couple of metres across, and at least a metre high. If a female approves of the mound, she will come and lay up to 20 eggs in it. These eggs are laid 2-3 days apart, so the whole process can take months.
The male turkey makes sure that the mound is constantly kept at the correct temperature to incubate the eggs. He tests it with his beak, and then scrapes away or adds litter as needed. It is a full-time job, and he keeps at it without a break for many months. Our bush turkey has made his mound around the lemon tree down the back, and scrapes up everything in our backyard (as well as our neighbour’s yards), to keep it as he wants it.
Strangely, however, once the eggs hatch, his duty ends. Baby bush-turkeys are on their own, and in suburban areas, they rarely survive, falling prey to crows, cats and other predators. I have seen the male bush turkey stand by and do nothing whilst a crow attacked the baby bird.
What have I learnt from the bush turkey? Some profound insights, actually (well, they felt profound to me!). Insights about the importance of incubating. About constructing and maintaining a space where things can develop and grow in darkness and quietness. Often I want to come up with fully-fledged ideas. The bush-turkey reminds me to allow time – not to rush the process.
The turkey leaves things alone. He makes sure they have the right conditions to grow, but then he just lets them be. He’s not poking and prodding and bringing them out to the light too soon. He lets them emerge when they are ready, even though it seems to take forever. So I too have been letting hopes and dreams and ideas incubate inside, waiting for them to emerge in their own time.
The bush turkey is not concerned about the outcome. He works and works, but doesn’t take responsibility for things he can’t control. Sometimes I need to remember that not everything is in my control. Once I’ve put in the groundwork, I need to let my ideas and dreams take on a life of their own.
However, maybe the bush-turkey could learn some lessons himself, in terms of nurturing and protecting new life! But on the other hand, then we would be completely overrun with bush turkeys, which would be an even worse problem than plague numbers of pigeons or sparrows. Probably there is some profound message in that as well, but I haven’t figured that out yet!
Let me know if you have any ideas! Are there times when nature has come into your life, and seemed to have a message for you? We’d love to hear about them.
Warm regards – and happy days to you