Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Slice of Life: Gratitude for Turkey Vultures

Sunday morning my daughter, my husband, and I were peacefully sitting on our front porch having our coffee. All of a sudden a horrible odor wafted through the air. "What is that smell?" we all exclaimed. Then it seemed to diminish. However, just a few short minutes later it returned. "That is the smell of death," my husband said. My first thought was, "Please let it not be under the porch." We started to look around, and I spotted turkey vultures in the woods right next to our home. That answered our question as to where this dead animal was. The smell was so horrific that we were driven inside to finish our coffee. All day long whenever the slightest breeze would blow from that area we would be overcome with the sickening smell. I found myself thinking, "Why now? Why on a day we can relax outside?" I warned my other three children who were expected to arrive home that evening that the air was not too pleasant in our garden. Upon their arrival they quickly came inside where the air conditioning protected us from the repulsive aroma. I watched, from the sliding glass doors in my studio, the turkey vultures as they came and left the carcass all day long.

Each morning I journal as I enjoy my first cup of coffee of the day. I begin my daily journaling with gratitude. I promptly wrote, "Thank You for the air conditioning that protected us from the smell of death and allowed us all to sleep peacefully." I began to think about the turkey vultures, who were still with the carcass. I decided to look up "turkey vultures" in my book Animal Speak by Ted Andrews and learn a bit more about them. I learned that turkey vultures remove from our environment what could harm our health. I learned that they work to keep our environment clean. I had something else to be grateful, and I wrote, "Thank You for sending the turkey vultures to protect our health." Suddenly, I viewed having this decaying animal so close to our home differently. I no longer thought of the experience as negative. I saw it as an opportunity to see how magnificently this world is created. Turkey vultures, an animal I previously did not have a great deal of respect for, I now had a heart full of gratitude for them. I now see them for what they were put on this earth to do - to protect human beings and other creatures from what could cause us great harm. I am looking at this world quite differently today and wondering, "What else do I view as negative that I should be seeing through the eyes of gratitude?"


  1. Your last sentence says so much. We all need to adjust our view occasionally. Interesting facts about the turkey vultures. I saw several the other day as I drove past a field. I will look at them differently because of you. Thanks!

  2. It's a complex...or simple really...system that is intriguing to ponder! We had turkey vultures in the field across the road from us when we were in RI for a bit. They cleaned up dead chickens and rotting eggs that were dumped there. I know the stench of which you speak!!!