Friday, November 24, 2006


Once upon a time there was a turkey named Galaxy who lived on an organic turkey farm in Northern California. She had a good life. The owners of the farm were vegetarians, and they raised turkeys only for their eggs. Turkey eggs, you say? Actually, they are delicious and a little bigger than chicken eggs. People often use them in Mexican food.

One November a few years ago, it was noticed that Galaxy was no longer laying eggs all that often. She tried to hide her shortcoming in many ways. Her owners, being people of conscience and non-violence, decided to look the other way as they appreciated her many fine qualities. But, times being tough (and they WERE turkey farmers after all), they had a talk with Galaxy the night before Thanksgiving. With heaviness of heart, Farmer Sunshine asked, “Galaxy, if there was a painless way for you to become dinner to save our farm, would you consider going to Axelrod’s?”

“Oh my gosh, please not the Axelrod’s - they are carnivorous, right wing, bible thumpers – please, I would do almost anything else…”

“Galaxy, I know it isn’t a perfect solution, but you’ve lived a happy life, and quite frankly, we’re desperate!”

A turkey of deep conviction, Galaxy sighed deeply, gave Farmer Sunshine a full wing embrace, wiped a tear from her organic eye, and trotted off down the path to the Axelrod Gun Shop.

Several of her companion turkeys saw what was happening, and in a desperate act of solidarity, they ran after her holding signs that read “If you kill her, you have to kill all of us!”

This gesture jolted Farmer Sunshine back to a memorable day from his college days at Berkeley, back in 1968, and he spoke to the group. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” he reasoned.

Suddenly the ground began to shake violently, and every single turkey stopped, looked at each other, and screamed in unison, “EARTHQUAKE!” As the dazed and shaken turkeys looked on, Farmer Sunshine slipped off the barn platform, and was struck on the head by a collapsing beam.

“Head for the hills, and meet me at the Golden Gate Bridge!” screamed Galaxy to all the terrified turkeys. But then she stopped in her tracks and wheeled around to face the panicked flock, her wings flung wide and embracing. She had only one thought in her mind. “Sister turkeys, we have to make a tough choice today.”

An aftershock knocked everybody over. They dusted off their wings, hugged each other in relief, and one of the younger hens threw out an idea.

“Hey, let’s do a sit in on Thanksgiving – block all the highways leading to Grandma’s house!”

“No, Valerie,” one of the old hens muttered, “That has been so done, and Farmer Sunshine will wake up and find us, because he will recognize the rhetoric with which we’ve been imprinted!”

Through the silenced flock there passed a slight jolt, then a quiet sucking sound. Grace had found a package of discarded lifesafers, and passed them around to her querying companions. They all took a deep breath, but then they noticed the tide on the beach next to the farm receding at an alarming rate…

“Tsunami!!!!” Galaxy cried.

They ran as fast as they could. Galaxy led the group up the hillside, but then realized, to her horror, that the Axelrod’s farm was behind the gate at the top of the ridge. However, looking back, Galaxy wondered if the huge wave looming on the western horizon would actually top that ridge anyway. Suddenly, she remembered that none of the turkeys living at Farmer Sunshine’s ranch had had their wings clipped. They could fly, but how far – and what friendly spot could they find to land, on the day before Thanksgiving? The forest on the opposite ridge looked wild and free and inviting, if a little scary.

Suddenly, all eyes looked up and saw a huge object slowly descending into the field right in front of them. At first they were too dazed to actually see it well, but as the propeller slowed, it was easily identified as a helicopter owned by animal rights activist, Vega Green. She stepped out, and with a sweeping motion of her gentle arm, beckoned the terrified turkeys to the helicopter, to the ride of their lives. Assured that none of them would become Thanksgiving dinner, they broke into a rousing chorus of “for she’s a jolly good fellow” as the helicopter lifted off the hilltop.

Galaxy looked down on the chaos below. As the helicopter flew over Farmer Sunshine’s farm, she saw him stirring and pulling himself to his feet. It appeared his wife was dead. Galaxy brushed a tear from her eye, but resolved to keep her sadness to herself. The others needed her strength now.

As Farmer Sunshine and the farm became a distant vision, Valerie and the other young hens laid their daily eggs, and began thinking of what they could do to change the world with them. Galaxy silently took the controls of the helicopter, swung it around, and headed back toward Farmer Sunshine…

“Yo, Galaxy!” Valerie screamed. “What are you doing?”

“Just picking up the pieces.”

“Well, pick them up on your own, you crazy old hen!” shouted Valerie, as she shoved Galaxy out the open helicopter door.

Galaxy felt her heart jump into her throat, spread her wings, and like an eagle flew for high ground in the Sierras. The snow had just started to fall in the higher elevations. "Tonight I shall roost in a tall pine, and dine on pine cones,” she thought. She peered through the trees ahead, and her eyes caught sight of a distant marker, “Donner Pass”.

Now Galaxy was an old turkey hen, and she had actually studied the history of the west in school. “Yikes – but as long as I’ve not flown through a time warp on my way down here, I’ll probably be OK.” Nonetheless, she felt strong and just kept going, veering directly south toward Mexico. It was warmer there, and for some reason, turkey had never really caught on, except for the eggs….The End

My wife and I wrote this story tonight.

I have enjoyed the writings of my third graders for many years, as they wrote about how a turkey might escape being served for Thanksgiving Dinner. So on the day after Thanksgiving, my wife and I tried our hand at the assignment. We passed the laptop back and forth, literally, one sentence at a time. No rules, except that you could only write one sentence and could not change anything already written. Either of us could write "The End" at any time.

Go ahead and try to figure out who wrote what. I did not write the first sentence.

Besides being great fun and lots of laughs, the process we used is one that suggests to me collaboration of the kind I want to use with my kids this year. We'll use a wiki for this - as soon as I can figure out a format that will work - and a way that will make it as immediate, fun, and rewarding as the experience we had tonight.

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