Shortly before noon last Tuesday, at a busy downtown intersection by the Armory, a man walked into the street in the usual fashion: looking down at his phone, unconcerned with the traffic heading his way. Two thousand years ago this guy would have wandered into a Roman chariot race looking at a scroll.
Then he looked up, stopped and jumped back in shock: There was some huge poultry-type thing in the street. It was the Downtown Turkey, as we will now call this brave and stupid creature. Downtown was strolling in the middle of the street at a relaxed pace, looking right and left like a celebrity in a parade.
Drivers who would normally not pull over if an ambulance filled their rearview mirror slammed on the brakes.
1. If this happened every day for a week, there'd be talk of installing a Turkey Lane, complete with bollards — which is actually a post but sounds like another bird.
2. Where did it come from? They don't fly, do they?
Yes. Wild turkeys can fly. They roost in trees at night, and it's not as though they climb up there like a phone-pole lineman.
3. If some speeding driver had hit the turkey and sent it somersaulting over his car, the driver behind him might have said, "I've had angry drivers flip me the bird before, but not like this."
Anyway, Downtown was later spotted outside WCCO's studio at 9th and Nicollet and then went all the way down the Mall to the Xcel Energy building, a path that suggests the bird was looking for retail.
Urban turkey spottings are not unprecedented. A turkey appeared near a light rail station earlier this month, and one showed up downtown in January. Maybe they're all the same bird. Maybe the Downtown Turkey goes back to its flock and regales them with tales of the city. "Yeah, I knew Dayton's Mummy Monkey. We went way back."
If you spend too much time in the city, your range of wildlife is narrow: squirrels, raccoons, birds in three varieties (basic birds, red birds, evil crows that are a few evolutionary upticks away from being able to steal your Social Security number), dogs, cats. Everything else is startling.
This must be amusing to people who live outside the metro and are accustomed to something that looks like a bowling-ball bag on sticks perambulate across their yards. The idea that city people stop and take pictures is like someone in a small town snapping photos of a bearded young man in tight jeans wandering down Main Street, looking for cold-press coffee.
"Where did it come from?"
"Oh, they roost down in the Cities, but venture out looking for retro glassware they can take back to their nests."