Growing up in DuPage County as the land was changed from agricultural to suburban in the 1960s, I don't remember ever seeing a single turkey vulture. Turkey vultures really entered my consciousness on the cusp of adulthood. A few days after graduating from college I left home to go backpacking in New Mexico. On one of those legendarily lovely mid-May days, driving the width of the state of Missouri on the interstate successor to Route 66, I was repeatedly amazed with almost continual sightings of groups of turkey vultures wheeling, soaring, and gliding above the intensely verdant, fresh, rolling land beneath a cloud-flecked blue sky. The following day I entered New Mexico and learned that the next ten days or so would be spent driving and mostly hiking in the "land of enchantment," and I put a new word in my working vocabulary--enchantment.
Enchantment implies some element of change, a bewitching, a transformation, a new reality. When you experience enchantment you are charmed or thrilled or somehow compelled to experience the ordinary in a slightly different way. That day across Missouri was special, filled with elements of achievement, hope, celebration and simple joy in the moment. Those elements in some way left a bit of blank canvas in my mind on which those big birds, so ungainly up close but so majestic in flight, ended up being permanently painted. Whenever I see turkey vultures in flight, but especially as they return in early spring, my mind somehow dredges up that old canvas and yet again the wonder of that day adds to the joy of the moment watching music in the sky. Ah--enchantment.