Hamptons Epicure: Why I Went On A Turkey Hunt The Week After Thanksgiving

Our family takes turns hosting Thanksgiving and it was our turn. But because my in-laws were about to sell their condo in Rochester, we were invited up there for Thanksgiving dinner and the spoils that come when parents downsize. I scored some primo sweaters, scarves, baskets and a nice, wooly wing-backed chair. All good. ‘Can’t complain, my mother-in-law has great taste and style but she served CHICKEN for Thanksgiving dinner.

The birds were delicious and there was plenty of food to go around—but chicken ain’t “Thanksgiving,” so I “had to” cook a bird of our own when we got home days later.

Husband, being a reasonable man (how did I snag one of those?!), suggested we have people over to share a big dinner of turkey, so I set that up. Now all we needed was a turkey. Oh, but, we needed a sizeable, thawed bird for Sunday dinner and it was 7a.m. on Friday. Dear Husband said something like “All you, crazy lady.” So I hatched a plan: I’d drive to King Kullen in Bridgehampton for a fresh bird/stick it in the fridge at home/drive back to work in Bridgehampton. Simple enough. Is King Kullen open? Do they have fresh turkeys? He called. Yes! [expand]

All was normal until after I parked my car in the small lot North of King Kullen. When I was about to cross the drive to the store, I saw out of the corner of my eye what looked liked a small flock of TURKEYS crossing the same drive, but way down, in front of Panera. A car was stopped there to let the crossing figures pass. I thought, “No way is that turkeys, I must be crazy—that one in the crosswalk must be a little kid in a puffy coat.” I kept watching after the car had passed, the figures were now walking down the walkway toward me. Turkeys.

I turned back to my car to grab my camera, oops, I had dashed out for turkey at 7 a.m. without my camera—what was I thinking? I ran to the service desk in King Kullen and asked for a disposable camera. The lady behind the counter assured me that they don’t sell those anymore and suggested I try the pharmacy on the other side of the plaza. I tried to reset myself for normalcy—I gave up my photo quest and went to the meat department.

I couldn’t find any fresh turkeys inside King Kullen—I asked a meat department worker for one. Turns out they keep “fresh turkeys” in the back. Who knew? No, he didn’t lead one out, he handed me a prepared bird in a plastic wrapper. I thanked him and said, “There’s a flock of turkeys in the parking lot, but I didn’t want to work that hard.”

He said, “Really?!”

When I got back outside and was dumping my poultry purchase in the trunk, there were two turkeys just across the way, in front of Staples. Both toms. One was a sort of washed-out looking version of a Narragansett. Mottled brown and beige feathers, not very colorful but quite beautiful.

The other was—freakishly—a huge, all-white Broadbreasted White, a factory breed, complete with a chest he could barely support and wing tip feathers that almost dragged along the ground. What the hell was he doing out? He apparently had a similar thought about me as he hissed nastily in my direction. The mottled one gobbled quietly.

A representative of our species was walking toward them from the other direction, with a cup in her hands, saying, “Ooh, bread crumbs….”

I got the hell outta that domestic scene. Some geese taught me at a tender age to stay away from birds. [expand]

After I pulled away from the plaza without any further wildlife sightings, I thought maybe things could return to normal. I was zipping along Scuttlehole Road and had made it to that potato barn just past Channing Daughters Winery when four wild turkeys darted in front of my car. I slowed down and they had no trouble getting safely across. When I glanced back at them I noticed that all four were looking straight at me as they ran, I could see the laughter in their little beaky faces as they looked at me over their slumpy, feathered shoulders. They were mocking me!

Well, I did have their cousin’s body in the trunk…

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