There was the Turkey Barn, on the edge of a white field, with a row of big pine trees behind it, and always, no matter how cold and still it was, these trees were lifting their branches and sighing and straining. It seems unlikely that on my way to the Turkey Barn, for an hour of gutting turkeys, I should have experienced such a sense of promise and at the same time of perfect, impenetrable mystery in the universe, but I did.
After reading Alice Munro’s “The Turkey Season” for the April edition of “The Alice Munro Story of the Month”, I had the distinct feeling that twelve Alice Munro stories isn’t going to be enough. I might have to extend reading her stories into 2017.
In “The Turkey Season”, the fourteen year-old female narrator gives a few subtle hints that she is more educated and has a different future in store for her than most of the residents of her small hometown of Logan, Ontario. This bright future, though, doesn’t give way to arrogance but rather provides her with a respect and admiration for her town.
During the Christmas season, she gets a job gutting turkeys at The Turkey Barn. Her co-workers are a crew of various personalities and temperaments. The narrator, herself, values these relationships and the work they do even as they seamlessly glide back and forth between resignation and contentment as to their life circumstances.
As the narrator, now older, looks back on a photograph of her co-workers on that Christmas Eve when she was fourteen, she recalls the snow and the coldness of that season with a certain amount of fondness seeing a small amount of light, hope, warmth and even love for people who weren’t necessarily that lovable to the rest of the world.
Alice Munro is becoming a favorite. I can’t wait until May!
I found this story in Carried Away: A Selection of Stories by Alice Munro which I borrowed from my public library.