Pilgrims and Pheasants

29 Nov

So Thanksgiving here in the U. S of A has come and gone and I am thankful for a fridge full of leftovers and several recipes up my sleeve to use them up. Turkey Taco soup (easy and just so different from potatoes and gravy that it’s a nice change) and Turkey Tetrazzini (it gets a bad rap, but I love it!) And, of course, turkey soup made by simmering the carcass for hours in my largest pot and adding mom’s secret ingredient – lemon juice – at the last moment before serving. Perfect for these chilly fall nights!! It’s a messy job, making turkey soup, but it’s so worth it!

Modeling her self-made Pilgrim hat.


Thanksgiving is, ostensibly, the remembrance of those first pilgrims who came to The New Land to begin their lives away from religious persecution and whatever it was that King George was doing to them that so upset them. I don’t remember the details. (By the way, that TV show – which I have never watched – called, “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” really isn’t about smarts, it’s about memory. They JUST studied this stuff. It’s fresh in their minds. Yes, I am smarter than a fifth grader, thank you very much. I just don’t remember everything I learned the same year that President Regan was shot. Do you? That was 1981, by the way, just in case you can’t remember or didn’t ever know!)

So, anyway, I say “ostensibly” because, really, I don’t sit around the Thanksgiving table meditating on the merits (or demerits) of the pilgrims. I do, however – at least I try – to sit around contemplating things I am thankful for. Like my family (unoriginal, I know), my home, my hard-working husband, God, and the fact that my manuscript is now in the hands of an agent and hopefully she will love it!

Feathers. Why is this picture here?


I also am forced at this time of year to remember – and yes, be thankful for, in an “at-least-it-wasn’t-worse” sort of way – the pheasant that flew through our living room window a few days before Thanksgiving three years ago.

No. The window wasn’t open. It was November in Minnesota, for goodness sakes!

I was sitting upstairs reading a mystery novel and I’d just gotten to a really shivery part. I mean JUST. I read the creepy sentence and then “BANG!!!!” a horrible noise from downstairs caused me to jump so high that I dropped my book and had to find my place later. So annoying.

Again with some feathers. What's going on?


At first I thought it was hunters. I’d heard some out and about all day, and knew that the pheasants of the neighborhood were wise to hunker down and keep their mouths shut. I suppose that maybe it was hunters who scared the pheasant, but at least it wasn’t hunters who shot out my window.

The first thing I saw.


I walked stealthily to the stairs. I had no idea at this point what had happened. I began to creep down the five steps to the lower floor, still not seeing what on earth had happened. Then I saw it: one entire section of the front window was gone. Well, to be accurate, it was there, it just was in pieces all over the floor. Both storm-proof panes of it.

With my heart still rapidly beating, I walked toward the window, still unable to see the floor below it as we have this weird half-wall thing there which blocked my view. I rounded the corner, and there, staring up at me with its tiny black eyes, was a ring-necked pheasant. A pheasant, by the way, weighs about 2.9 pounds and is 21-36 inches long. This is no tiny birdie.

A ring-necked pheasant. Outside where he belongs.


WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW? I wish that what I’d done was to grab my camera but I didn’t. Instead I opened wide the front door, which was about four feet away from the pheasant, and looked around the living room for a way to help it to the door. I was not wearing shoes and the pheasant was ON my shoes, so I didn’t want to grab it as I’d seriously endanger my feet in the process. Plus, who wants blood drips on an off-white carpet? So I did the only logical thing: I grabbed couch pillows and began tossing them near the back of the bird so as to induce it towards the open door. I did not toss them AT the bird, just near enough to encourage it door-wards.

More carnage.


It worked. With a squawk and a rush of wings, that pheasant flew out the open door and, supposedly, back to his waiting spouse in the long dry grasses of Iowa. Not one drop of blood – either fowl or human – was spilled in the making of this tale.

The window, however, was not as fortunate. If windows could bleed, my carpet would have been ruined.
So that’s my pheasant-though-the-window story and my friends on facebook can corroborate it as I relayed it almost immediately to my waiting audience.

I called my husband at work first, though.

This is what it looks like when a fully-grown pheasant flies through your window.


“Honey? You won’t believe what just happened.”

“What?”

“A pheasant flew through the living room window.”

“WHAT?”

After he hung up the phone he turned to the first person to cross his path and said, “You won’t believe what just happened.”

Thank goodness for vacuum cleaners.


Yes, we have things to be thankful for indeed. Like a husband who knows how to take care of broken windows. Not to mention the fact that, despite the appalling noise of the incident, the baby never woke up. That really would have ruined my day. I had to get back to reading my exciting book!!!

Happiest of Thanksgivings to you all – near and far – and may you find some random thing to be thankful for today.

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10 Responses to “Pilgrims and Pheasants”

  1. Minnesota Prairie Roots November 29, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    I would have totally freaked as I do not like anything with flapping wings. Yeah, childhood trauma inflicted upon me by a kid-chasing, evil rooster.

    But this IS quite the tale. Reminds me of the time I was six months pregnant and trapped in my in-law’s bathroom with me standing on the tub and a mouse running in circles at my feet in the middle of the night. Realizing no one was coming to my rescue and that I could not climb out of the window, I finally scooped up several towels, tossed them on (not at) the mouse and fled. True traumatic tale. It’s in print, in a magazine.

    Congrats, BTW, on getting your manuscript into the hands of an agent. Keep us posted.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 29, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

      Oh, I’ve heard stories about kid-chasing, evil roosters. Not good!

      Ever since we got some mice in our house last year, stuffed, puppeted, animated or otherwise made-to-be-cute mice are NOT welcome in my home!!! I would have thrown the towels ON him, too!

      I’m pretty excited about the agent thing – nothing commited to yet, but here’s hoping! (And praying!)

  2. ceciliag November 29, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    Ok that was REALLY funny! i have never had a pheasant desperate enough to get into my house (probably to get to the left overs), that it felt the need to gate crash THROUGH the window and LIVE! Hilarious! good story.. c

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 29, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

      Thanks, Cecil (is that your proper spelling?) I am not sure I did the story justice – I wrote it the day before and really would rather sit on it for a day or two. But it was fun to write up! What a crazy experience!

  3. ashley December 1, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    This always makes me laugh. I always think of all people it could have happened to, it was you. I don’t think it would have been nearly as funny if it happened to a country girl.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell December 1, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

      I like to think of myself as an island girl. Definitely NOT a city girl…(I’m scared to drive in SF!) but certainly not a farm girl, either!

  4. hotlyspiced December 4, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    Congrats on finishing your manuscript and getting it to your agent. I hope she loves it and sends it on to a grateful publisher.

  5. Md. Alsanda November 12, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by and the following.

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