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Wildlife Refuge? Suburban Yard? Whatever…

Yesterday the neighborhood decided that summer had arrived. For the neighbor kids, who all go to public schools, yesterday was the day after the last day of school. They were running around the block like a pack of wild animals, joyous, leaping, laughing critters.

I went out to get the mail in our box and stopped dead in my tracks when I saw a turtle parked on my husband’s side of the driveway (he was at work at the time, so his side of the blacktop was empty). My first thought was that some kid left their toy in our yard. Then, I suspected they were playing a trick on me, watching my reaction behind some tree. Then it moved. EEEK! “A turtle, a turtle,” I yelled to all kids within earshot. And they came a runnin’.

I was concerned that the turtle might turn around and head back towards the road from whence it came. This time of year we see a lot of squashed turtles on roads. It was clearly headed towards the conservation land behind our house, but had stopped when we approached and tried to turn around. Then it gave up and hid its head in its shell. I was eager to make sure this little guy made it to the forest safe and sound. But I knew the kids would all want to see the creature before I ushered it on its way.

Once a crowd of kids gathered around, the turtle decided hiding its head wasn’t the best plan, so it started bookin’ for the forest as fast as its legs would carry it. Not all the kids had made it to our yard yet, so I decided to pick it up so they could get a closer look. That turtle had pretty sharp claws, though, and kept flailing around trying to scratch my fingers as I held it. I almost dropped it more than once.

[hmmm….WordPress isn’t letting me insert a picture here…I’ll try to put it in the comments section later. Sorry!]

Now, on hind sight, I should have asked my son to bring the cardboard box on the porch (filled with “habitat” for the snakes he keeps catching) to me so I could put the turtle in it for the kids to see and touch its shell. What a great educational opportunity lost! But I was worried that the littlest kids would either get bitten or hurt the thing. You may recall my earlier post about the neighborhood snake murderers across the street…

So the kids got to catch a quick glimpse, and I hightailed it to the backyard and let the poor guy go. Man, he took off in a hurry, clean disappeared in the undergrowth in a flash. The children dispersed soon after. Then a lone nieighbor boy started running to our house. Oops. I forgot about that kid. “Sorry,” I hollered across the road, “we already let him go.” Drooping with disappointment, he slowly walked away.

These days, we are getting lots of visitors to our yard: skunks eating the grubs in our yucky lawn, a groundhog family of five eating our clover, and a family of deer running across our yard to get to higher ground. This is what I love. To live side by side with the animals as if we can all coexist peacefully. Maybe that’s why I was in such a hurry to help the turtle on its way — I know we are an imposition on these native creatures and we destroy them and their habitat like we own the place. I wanted to make sure this turtle was not only safe but that its needs came first. After all, we may own that conservation land but it is HIS home, not ours.

5 Responses

  1. I’m glad you saved the little guy. Also, I want to live in that neighborhood. 🙂

    We get the occasional chipmunk and squirrel and have a cardinal couple living in our neighborhood. No turtles, though.

    We did have a bear on our street last week, but I don’t need that 🙂

  2. “This time of year we see a lot of squashed turtles on roads.”

    Poor little turtles. 😦

  3. strugglingwriter: Yes, the turtle was a first for us at the house. We’ve seen them occasionally in the area, mostly dead, but never has one visited our property. We do get a ton of wildlife, though, including turkeys! But no bears … so far. YIKES!

    Leafless: I KNOW!! It’s awful when critters get killed by traffic. Something so pathetic about road kill. Depending on my mood, I can actually weep when I see them lying there… 😦

  4. Your place sounds so great for raising kids. What neat experiences to have growing up. I live in a concrete jungle so my kids saw plenty of squirrels, but that was about it. Wonderful sharing with all the neighbor kids also. I almost forgot, we did have oppossums at the bar I owned, but they weren’t really the type of animal you could let the children pet, not that they would want to. LOL.

  5. Ha, ha! Petting an opossum. LOL !!! Do you remember ever seeing that painter guy on PBS who had a pet squirrel that sat on his shoulder. I always thought that was a little creepy. I do recall him always saying about painting: “There are no mistakes. Only happy accidents.” Nice motto.

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