Mill Valley’s town turkey struts his stuff

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It was a day like any other for Sgt. Paul Wrapp of Mill Valley’s finest. His patrol car was parked on Miller Avenue near the 2 a.m. Club.

There, he caught the perp in action: A titanic Tom turkey, pecking the front tire of his car.

Wrapp didn’t waste a second. He started shooting photos. So did passers-by.

The turkey headed into Mill Valley’s main thoroughfare. Wrapp moved his car mid-road, set up a blockade, and stood guard so the giant gobbler wouldn’t get dinged by an SUV.

“I’d seen him before — distinctive markings,” says Wrapp. “Last week, he was wandering down Madrona toward Punjabi Burrito, weaving in and out of people, not a care in the world.”

Normally, wild turkeys don’t go solo. Rarely do you see them on main streets. Over in Blithedale Canyon, resident O.J. Schneider has been watching whole flocks of them “just wandering through the neighborhood” for several years now. Was our Town Tom somehow cut off from his fellows? Lost? Checking out fine curbside dining?

Alison Hermance of Marin WildCare says turkeys “are definitely flock birds … but a young male will sometimes be ostracized by the dominant male and end up on his own.”

Our Town Turkey: Bad boy, or just lonely? Call the shrink…

Beethoven’s brain

Consider Beethoven’s brain — the instrument he used to create his final gift to the world, his Ninth Symphony (1822-24), written while the celebrated composer was almost fully deaf.

Mill Valley’s Laurie Cohen ponders the image. “I wonder whether his deafness unleashed his imagination … freed him to be abstract — both abstract and cosmically universal,” says Cohen, Mill Valley’s own maestra, founder, nurturer, artistic director and conductor of Mill Valley Philharmonic.

Cohen, who’s led the award-winning orchestra since 2000, retires this month. She’s going out with the biggest bang one could imagine: Conducting Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, op. 125, in two free concerts, featuring 62 MVP musicians and an 83-member chorus.

Beethoven was the first major composer to add a choral section (the oh-so-familiar “Ode to Joy”) to a symphony. And it worked. The Ninth is reputed to be the best known and most oft performed symphonic opus ever. When Cohen describes the piece, her hands sculpt the air in front of her, finding, feeling, now riding the notes she hears in her head. “The Fourth Movement, the choral section — you just keep getting deeper and deeper … phrases, notes, dynamics; the theme coming from far away, then closer, closer … like a sound on the horizon. Like the creation of the world.”




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In 2000, Cohen’s Mill Valley Philharmonic began as a small band of string players. Today, it is a renowned full orchestra of 60-plus, its volunteer members ranging from aerospace engineer to physician to math teacher to housekeeper to student and all in between.

Take in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, by Mill Valley Philharmonic along with the Dominican Chorale and singers from choruses across the Bay Area, Saturday, May 19, at 8 p.m. or Sunday, May 20, at 2 p.m.; Angelico Hall, Dominican University of California, 50 Acacia Avenue, San Rafael. Reserve tickets (they’re free; donations welcome) at millvalleyphilharmonic.org/concerts.

Honor the maestra at Cohen’s retirement party, May 24 at rockin’ Sweetwater Music Hall; tickets also on MVP’s site.

Odds and Ends

Sign on marquee at Mill Valley Middle School:

“Be kinder than necessary.”

To wit:

• On social media: “A very sweet duckling landed in our pool. We got it out, but there is no sign of … a mother … Anyone have experience … on what to do?” Response, from Mill Valley’s Lisa Bloch of Marin Humane: “(We) went out on a number of orphan- or in-trouble ducking calls this week …plucked them out of storm drains, rescued them from under a truck where they were hiding from a hungry crow, collected them from caring people … If momma is not around, take (them) to WildCare.”

• More from social media: Query above a photo of an obviously lost plush panda: “Am I your panda? I am on the corner by Old Mill Park waiting for my kid!”

Hooray for the kindness of strangers.





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