Every evening, on the hill outside my little cabin in West Tisbury, a stupendous spectacle takes place. Just as dusk settles in, wild turkeys begin marching up the hill from every direction. In my mind, I hear Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, over the squawking and squabbling birds. They gather on top of the hill, where the toms chase the hens around for a while. Then the turkeys begin taking their roost for the night. They get a running start, and hurl themselves with a thunderous drumbeat of feathers and flapping into a tree just off my deck. One evening we counted 43 turkeys in the roost.

Animals in general don’t like change. Your horse doesn’t want you to stand on the wrong side of him, your cat doesn’t want you to change her brand of kitty litter, and your dog wants breakfast at the same time every day.

Routine is a deep-seated instinct. If a turkey does something a certain way one day, and doesn’t get eaten by a predator, then it makes sense to do everything the same way the next day. They are safe huddled in the tree for the night. They might be safe in another tree, in another field, or on the ground, but they don’t think like that. Why risk thinking?

Turkeys are not the only birds in my front yard. Song birds flit about in the spring, providing flashes of color and chirpy songs to brighten the day. I like to photograph them. But my avian photography quest is inspired mostly by my father’s ice-fishing technique. He lived on a beautiful pond in Vermont, which froze thick with ice five months of the year. He worked hard at a physical job all his life, so when he saw a way to eliminate unnecessary effort, he took it. An ice fishing rig has a tip-up flag which pops up in the air when a fish is hooked on the line. My father would go out on the ice, set up his rigs, then retire to his warm living room where he could see the rigs through a big picture window, and simply wait for a flag to tip up.

That’s how I photograph birds. I set up my trusty Nikon D810 on my deck and attach a 600-millimeter Sigma lens. When a bird lands in a tree, I leap up (well, creak stiffly up) out of my chair, step outside, and make the photograph.

All this had me thinking about color and light the other day. We think of the bluebird’s azure hue as a specific color. But it’s really the product of photons of sunlight zooming through the air and landing on a human eye, which processes them through the neurons of the brain, or perhaps landing on the electronic sensor of a Nikon, which processes the photons into tiny pixels on an electronic screen. It’s pretty simple science, but it’s hard to think of it that way. The bird is not really blue, the light bouncing off him is blue. What you see is not always what you get, and the easiest way to think of a thing is not always correct. It’s a bit of an irony.

Irony has also been on my mind lately, as the Island argued about summer property owners arriving here early to ride out the coronavirus pandemic. Some argued in incensed tones that the visitors risked bringing the virus here, and were a threat to overwhelm our community hospital.

Irony, I think, is closely related to hypocrisy, and we’ve had plenty of both lately. Here’s an example: our hospital, where they fix up our sprained softball ankles and x-ray our aching yard work backs, was built almost entirely by donations from wealthy summer visitors.

Here’s another one: When the summer population swells and the hospital gets busier, it is supplementally staffed by doctors and nurses who travel here from off-Island to work, to rent our apartments, and pour their salaries into our summer economy.

Yet another: a couple of summer residents from Edgartown have put together the kind of vital testing protocol for Island residents that states and towns have been begging for over the past two months. This will get our summer economy moving quicker than any other factor.

And here’s the supreme irony: when an Islander of umpteen generations gets sick with Covid-19 they go through an efficient protocol at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, and then get transported to a bigger hospital in Boston, probably a facility more susceptible to having its resources overwhelmed. Has anyone heard someone from Boston complain about an Islander taking a ventilator from a city resident?

It seems more reasonable to welcome our summer visitors with open arms, than take measures to restrict their movement. If they come here and act like morons, refusing to wear masks or accept social distancing recommendations, then they should be scorned and have their Fox News taken away from them. But if not, let’s live and let live.