Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Snappy Birth-day !

September 11, 2014
Water’s Edge, Hudson Falls NY

Back in June, we watched several snapping turtles emerge from the canal
and dig nests in our backyard, here at Water’s Edge.
There was construction going on at the time, but they kept appearing in the morning, digging here and there, ignoring the clamor around them,
seemingly oblivious to the risks they took with themselves and their offspring.

After all, they’ve chosen this spot for perhaps as long as the canal has been here
(it was built in the 1820s.)
 With cautious optimism, I’ve told my curious neighbors that we might see hatchlings some time around Labor Day.

On the last day of August, I did find one little guy,
back in my old neighborhood, along Meadowbrook Road.
(I know where to look for them there.)
Of course, I helped him get to the marshy slough across the road. 

A week later, despite all my apprehensions,
the long-awaited hatchlings appeared in our yard at Water’s Edge.

It was a warm clear evening,
and as several of us sat out on the porch after sunset,
one neighbor mentioned that about an hour ago,
someone had seen "a little turtle" out there in the grass.

I jumped out of my chair and the search was on !
We found four of the little guys  --
there they were, clambering over the grass and weeds,
right out in the open.

Despite sod, concrete, large stones, a vigilant family of crows,
and other obstacles,
they had left their well-hidden nests
and headed straight toward the canal.

They were not fooled by the swimming pool, which they bypassed.
It was that murky canal water they aimed for. 
Home sweet home.

We were witness to a miracle -- to see how they had triumphed,
despite the odds being against them.

And on September 11, 1854,
Thoreau wrote in his
Journal of a similar evening:

It is surprising how much cunning it already exhibits.
It is defended both by its form and color
and its instincts….

When to-day it lay within half an inch of the water’s edge,
it knew it for a friendly element and,
without deliberation or experiment,
but at last,
when it thought me and all foes unobservant of its motions,
with remarkable precipitation
it committed itself to it
as if realizing a long-cherished idea. …

It does not so much impress me as an infantile beginning of life
as an epitome of all the past of turtledom
and of the earth.

P.S. – Special “Snappy Birth-day” wishes for my friend
and fellow nature-blogger   Andrew Lane Gibson,
whose birth-day it is to-day.
May you also realize long-cherished ideas in the coming year !