May 14, 2007

Baby Turtle Orphan

Our house used to sit all by itself in the middle of a big field until a builder bought all the land around us and built a bunch of ugly houses, and in doing so, drastically changed the way our property drains after a heavy rain. Each time it rains for more than an afternoon of showers the water from the surrounding properties runs down the street, down our driveway, and forms some pretty substantial pools on our back lawn that only my ducks could love (and believe me, they do). And given that it's been raining like a bastard here, we've had more than our share of water come flooding down our driveway. Only this time, it carried a tiny surprise with it.

Last Sunday morning my husband was returning from an errand and as he got out of the car, called me over from tending the duck flock to come see what he'd found upon stepping out of the car: an impossibly tiny baby snapping turtle, no bigger than a quarter: golden yellow belly, sharp little claws and an unbelievably little pointy snout. As Sunday was the first dry day in many, and quite warm, the little turtle was horribly dry and barely moving. I couldn't wait to hold him, but while David examined him, I called Griffin to come outside to see the little guy before we let him go.

David carried him down to the small marsh behind our house and setting him gently on a twig that rested half on the shore and half on the water's surface, we watched and waited. He didn't move at all, so we decided to go about our business and leave him be for a bit. Maybe he'd find the courage to move into the water once he was alone.

I then walked up the street and back down it from where the water usually originates during heavy rains, just to be sure that there weren't any other baby turtles who had been stranded in the deluge, but both the road and my neighbors' yards were empty. About ten minutes later as I was returning to my own yard, I realized that in the excitement of setting him free, I had completely forgotten to take a minute to hold him before we set him free. I dashed back to the water's edge, but the twig was empty and the little turtle was nowhere to be seen (of course, a head that tiny could never be seen poking above the surface anyways). I was both sad and glad. I wish I'd had the chance to hold him, but I'm so happy to have a beautiful turtle living and growing in our wetland back there. I've checked to see if I can spot him several times since that first day, but with no luck yet. Soon he'll be bigger and then maybe I'll be able to see him swimming and sunning out there. I can't wait!

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