Joyful Tales: Guest blogger, Joy Healy, writes about her encounters with turtles.
As if from prehistoric times, a baby snapping turtle was making its way out of a muddy hole, across a trail roadway, towards forest, when I crossed paths with him. Having a shell spread of about six inches, this little snapper was making quite a hasty trip to the other side of a clearing, where raspberry bushes were low lying and where downed trees made a shaded retreat. He didn’t seem to note that I was approaching until I was standing right over him; but as soon as he detected my presence, he assumed a dead-still pose. The interesting thing was that he didn’t pull in his head for protection. No, instead it was almost as though he was defying any other living thing to mess with him.
I got on my walkie talkie to call my husband and asked if he’d like a “resident turtle picture”. In just a minute, he and our dog Bella arrived. Again, the turtle held his ground, even with Bella sniffing him out, even snapping at Bella as our dog got way too close for either of their comfort. Just to show how bold this little snapper was, as Ed was taking pictures of him, he began to amble off towards the trees. Amazing! that this little creature, who looked like something out of prehistoric times, with deeply wrinkled neck skin and a ragged back to his shell, held absolutely no fear of creatures who were many times his size!
Turtles have played an interesting part in my life. At the age of 5, I moved with my parents from Houston, Texas, out to a newly-acquired fifty-acre farm near Tomball. After living there about a year and making fast friends with Jodie MacDougal, we decided it was time to open a museum, and our primary attraction would be turtles, which we seemed to have plenty of on our acreage. Mom let us use the bins of the chicken coup for homes for our turtles; plus we had shells and bones and teeth to display, all found in the forest behind our house. Jodie and I were just about set to have the grand opening of our museum when we came home one day and my two older brothers had let all the turtles loose; and that was the end of our big scheme.
Years later, our family was living in Bulgaria. Our landlord did not permit cats or dogs for pets. What to do! One day when shopping at the pizar, Erin, our youngest daughter, spied red-eared slider turtles for sale for practically nothing. Wouldn’t two of the tiny turtles be just the answer for our pet problem! Sure enough, we walked home that day with pets for Erin, who promptly set them up in a fish tank in her bedroom. You wouldn’t think that turtles have personality until you have one. Their home was situated on a desk, near the doorway from the living room into Erin’s bedroom. Ed would work at his desk in a spot that the two “pets” could see him. One day, he called both Erin and me into the room to watch the two turtles perform – they were clicking at him, as though trying to communicate. Jerry and Mervie were climbing as high on the side of the tank as they dared, often literally hanging partially over the side. Who would have ever dreamt that tiny reptiles could communicate with humans!
And now, our resident snapper, who can make his way across a trail roadway, encounter two humans and a dog, and show absolutely no fear!!!
There is magic in nature! What a joy to be minding your own business and going for a stroll down a lane in the woods and find yourself encountering one of the many unseen creatures. A slower pace of life is necessary for taking in the sounds and sights of the beautiful nature all around us. Wonderful magic!
By Joy Healy