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Turtles in the Rain June 17, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

A couple of weeks ago, it was this: We were doing chores on a Saturday and getting ready to attend a work-related art opening. Tim went for a run in the afternoon. When he got back, he said he’d been approaching a Huge Something on the trail and couldn’t figure out what it was until he was right up on it: a snapping turtle at trailside, digging, likely laying eggs.

We scarfed a late lunch. I thought about the turtle. I wanted to see her.

Did I have time? Take your bike, Tim said.

The skies were threatening. But we’ve hardly had any rain, and I didn’t care if it rained on me. If there was thunder and lightening, I’d abort.

I rode fast. The wind was picking up. I got about a mile and a half out to the small bridge. I thought Tim said the turtle would be before that. I went a little farther. Not too much farther. It started to rain, so I turned around.

On the return trip, I found a turtle-sized disturbance. Looked like someone had buried her eggs. But I didn’t see the turtle. I rode back in a nice light rain, my clothes a pleasant clingywet by the time I got home.

I recently walked out to the bridge but found no turtles or disturbances. I want to see baby snappers. Some summers I do. But often I just see the ones who don’t make it. No sign of either yet.

Then, last Tuesday, when the thunderstorms hit, when the heat finally broke, it was this: Tim and I were dining after the first storm when he noticed a turtle making its way across our neighbor’s yard, right next to our driveway. Right there in town, heading toward the stream. A painted turtle.

Because two of our neighbors are kids, I admit I had a fleeting worry that they might also see the turtle and come out and capture it. I don’t know that they would have done that; I’m being a bit prejudiced about kids here. But I wanted the turtle to get where she was going. Unfortunately, she was heading for a rather large precipice: a stone wall where, a couple of years ago, there had been a sloping hill instead.

I don’t like to intervene. But now I was worried about the kids AND the 6-foot drop if the turtle continued along her determined path. Maybe turtles are fine with falls like that. Maybe she would have figured out another route. But she’d have to go out of her way.

I intervened.

I caught up with her. Picked her up. She was gorgeous. She withdrew and hissed at me. Hissed. I’d never heard a turtle hiss, and I totally deserved it. I walked her around to the back of the barn and put her down on the other side of the wall. Hoped for the best. Retreated to dinnerandhusbandtime.

When I checked on her, she was gone. She must have made it the fiftyish feet to the stream—at least, that’s what I’m hoping.


1. Cedar Waxwing - June 17, 2008

My kids rescued a (box? Painted?) turtle from the middle of the road on father’s day. I spotted it before Dean could run over it in our car. I said, “TURTLE! — STOP!!” The kids immediately jumped out of the car (well, Andrew was tangled in his seat belt, but ended up slipping out of it from underneath) and together they gently picked it up and carried it across the street in the state forest where we spent Fathers day.

They got back in the car, proud that they’d rescued a living creature and I shouted, “STOP!! DON’T PUT YOUR HANDS NEAR YOUR FACE. HERE, USE THIS DISINFECTANT SO YOU DON’T GET SALMONELLA!!”

Nice quiet father’s day.

2. Cedar Waxwing - June 17, 2008

Oh, and about your post…

I didn’t know that snapping turtles laid their eggs on land. We have them in the lake in Wisconsin. That’s pretty cool. And cool that Tim saw the female digging a hole for the eggs.

3. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - June 17, 2008

Adam and I went to the beach a few weeks ago to look for sea turtles, which are currently laying. He had gone a couple of weeks earlier, around 11 p.m., and found many of them. We were there at 9:30 or 10, and didn’t see any. The Sea Turtle Preservation Society patrol said there were very few out that night, and it might be because the ocean was rough, which makes the turtles reluctant to come up on land to lay. Or it might be that it was too early in the evening.

But just being at the sea at night, at the New Moon, was beyond delicious.

4. Bridgett - June 17, 2008

There’s a huge private park a block away from my house. Whenever a turtle is found in the lily ponds, the director calls my neighbor Larry, who brings a trash can, picks it up, and drives it 3 hours west to Lake of the Ozarks and releases it at his country house. Soft spots for turtles–the park otherwise would have just “gotten rid of it.”

5. damyantig - June 17, 2008

Turtles….I don’t think I have ever seen a truly wild one.

But when I visited a Chinese Temple at Ipoh, Malaysia I saw a pond full of tortoises…or should I say….over-full. Devotees pay for the privilege of releasing tortoises into a small pond in the temple compound, they believe it earns them good karma. Poor tortoises, living amid such population explosion can’t be fun.

The only way they get fed is when some devotees buy food in order to earn the good karma of feeding them. Poor, poor tortoises.

6. indigo bunting - June 18, 2008

Turtle stories! Tortoise stories! I love them!

And yes, D, poor, poor tortoises…

7. malinz - June 18, 2008

Wow. Turtles. Don’t find them here. Though I do have a dream of being able to go to Turtle Island in Fiji (when the country gets its act together … and when I win lotto) … surely I’d see some there?

8. Helen - June 19, 2008

I didn’t know turtles hissed either. Whatever happened to that strategy of retreating into their shell?

9. Susan - June 19, 2008

I love this post. The only time we see turtles is in the spring, and they’re usually crossing the road. We always stop to move them. So far no hisses! Once I pulled over to stop a couple of kids who were using sticks to torment a snapping turtle.

When I got home from shopping the other day I found my computer’s desktop picture had changed to a turtle! My son had stopped by and downloaded an image from his camera phone.

Why do you suppose turtles are always crossing the road? Yeah, I know . . . I know.

10. indigobunting - June 19, 2008

Mali: Surely turtles at Turtle Island.

Helen: She retreated into her shell and hissed from there. I suppose it could have been a deflating sound (I’ve been watching a lot of James Bond), but I don’t think so. And it definitely came from the front.

Susan, Cedar: I live in fear I’ll hit those turtles crossing the road. Serious migrators. Susan, there must be a turtle theme in the air…

11. Helen - June 19, 2008

I’m picturing a hydraulic turtle. It would help them get to the other side faster…

12. Cedar Waxwing - June 19, 2008

On the crossing the road theme — when they rescued the turtle at the park I asked what Susan asked here. Guess what — they didn’t know the typical answer. They thought I was being silly by saying “To get to the other side”. Then they both told me that they thought the joke was made up for people to create other answers.

13. Cedar Waxwing - June 19, 2008

they = my kids

14. Deloney - June 19, 2008

Chocolate turtles.

15. Helen - June 20, 2008

Enjoy the Adirondacks Indigo! And any chocolate turtles you may encounter on the way. Just be sure not to run over any of the real ones…

16. indigo bunting - June 20, 2008

CW: Of course you were being silly! It’s a JOKE.

D: Mmmmm…chocolate turtles.

H: Thanks! I leave tomorrow. I haven’t even considered the possibility of packing, given the workload, so it should be quite interesting.
Tim hasn’t been home a single night this week, he’s had to work so hard to get outta here. I had hoped to post one more time before I leave, but somehow it hasn’t happened yet…

17. damyantig - June 24, 2008

Have a great trip Indigo, and tell us all about it when you come back:)

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