By ice rivers
I remember my first Thanksgiving in a previous wifetime. We had been married a month and a half. We had built a chicken coop together. We had horses. We had a goose. We had a mule. We even had a peacock. The chickens were laying. We also had a couple of turkeys. As Thanksgiving approached, I wondered about the fate of the turkeys.
My wife didn’t wonder. She acted.
She coaxed one of the turkeys out to a stump that unbeknownst to the fowl was a chopping block. She got the bird to stretch his neck out on the block. She took a mighty swing with her ax. Contradicting rumors of stupidity, the turkey lurched out of the way as the ax buried itself in the stump.
The turkey trotted away as if nothing had happened and gtried to regain his dignity.
My wife was accompanied by her friend Beth who was eager to help but who was laughing her ass off.
The turkey meanwhile doubled down on rumors of stupidity and walked right back to the stump and confidently stuck his neck out. This time, Beth grabbed the turkey’s back legs. A moment later the axe fell.
I was photographing the whole thing.
Although the actual photograph, like the marriage itself, is long gone…I have an imprint of the photograph indelibly recorded in my mind.
It is the moment of contact.
Beth on the left is flinching.
Cindy on the right is baring her teeth, arms fully extended.
All of it is in a slight blur except for where the ax has come to a sudden stop as it passed through the neck of the bird and hit the stump. The ax and the neck of the bird are in perfect focus.
A darkened area on the axe is the blood erupting from the birds neck as the ax has passed through.
And yes, the turkey did run a round a little bit after his head was cut off.
I think it was the first time for everybody.
I know it was the first time for the turkey.
I was pretty sure I got the picture.
I proceeded to my dark room and made a print while the women were finishing up with the turkey.
Because I was working in my own darkroom, the image was in black and white and it turned out exactly as I described it above. The black and white nature of the image enhanced the reality of the situation.
We had invited several guests to come over and join us for Thanksgiving the following day.
The picture was so remarkable that we decided to frame it.
We put the framed picture in the dining room.
Our guests arrived, smoking joints and drinking shots as was the custom of the day.
John McCormack, who three years later died sober in a drunken car accident was the first to notice the image.
“Wow, what a picture”
People came over and looked at the image with varying degrees of astonishment.
Finally, someone asked the inevitable question.
“Is that photo a picture of the turkey we are about to eat?”
Beth spoke up.
“This is thanksgiving”
More joints were passed around. More shots taken.
When the transformed fowl appeared on the table, John asked if he could do the carving.
He did one helluva job.
There was plenty of meat to go around and a multitude of Thanks were given as a certain degree of reality grasped the gathering.