Nothing pleases me more than capturing the beauty that nature has to offer. My home and church are in the outdoors with a gentle breeze and no one around but me and my companion, Aria. There is serenity all around. But nature isn't about the trees, it's about the wildlife that inhabits it.
I grew up in a small Wisconsin town that was renamed when it was discovered that turtles preferred to nest and live on the edges of the many lakes in the area. Ever the running joke, years later, of, "are there turtles there?" An eye roll later and, yes, there are still turtles there.
But I digress, however, because of this little fact about this little town I have always been aware of these small creatures. Because we all know that sometimes nature's pets like to come out of the woods and into populated areas. I grew up slamming on my brakes to wait for these little creatures to cross the road when possible, I'll also run across the road to pick the little guy up and move him over to his destination so as not to be hit, either by accident or on purpose.
Most of the time these are the painted turtles, small and, for the most part, harmless. About all you have to fear when carefully picking them up is a release of their bladder or an occasional hiss. I'm "lucky" enough to get the hissing or they quickly move on when I start to approach them. But there are other kinds of turtles out there, ones I've heard whispers about but never actually saw one in the middle of the road.
I was coming out of a nearby town called St. Croix Falls and heading East. The road splits into three lanes and I was on the inside lane, and just below the hill, it merges back into two. As I come up over the hill I see something in the distance, a long dark object in the middle of the road with a tail longer than the body.
My first reaction is shock and disbelief because I'm not in Florida. I'm in Wisconsin so what is an alligator doing in the middle of, whoa! I quickly merge over to the outside lane, thankfully the car next to me had backed off, and as I passed this large animal I locked eyes with it. Holy Mahoney that alligator had a turtle's head! That was an alligator snapping turtle!!! I wish I could have stopped but there were too many cars behind me and I didn't want it to stay in the middle of the road.
As I watched it disappear in my side mirror I said a prayer and hoped it would quickly make it across before the line of oncoming traffic came around the bend. (It did.) The rest of the drive home I was disappointed that I hadn't gotten a picture of it because I have to say that turtle blew my mind away. I mean that is nature's weird sense of humor. How does a creature, considered prehistoric, have the tail of an alligator and the body of a turtle! Think about it, what had to have happened to create that! I just sit in wonder and can only think that it was "cold", the turtle was down in Florida warming up and met an alligator. Seriously, what?!?
Again, I digress but was disappointed that I didn't have a photo until about a week or two later and I'm on the backroads driving home and as I'm coming up over a hill at the bottom, in the middle of my lane something slow is crawling across the road. Too big to be a paint and there she was another snapper. (seen above) She was the most beautiful thing I had seen all day, probably about five years old. Traffic was light so we, my sister-in-law and I, were able to stop near her and give her protection until she made it safely across.
Now, as much as I love these snappers, there is no way in hell you will find me assisting as freely as I do a painted. Experts say you can take their back leg and pull them across, yeah, I think not. I'll just wait until they cross or walk up behind them so they get up and move along. They truly are amazing creatures so please, help them get safely across the road without putting yourself into danger. And for the love of God, please don't steer your car towards them and hit them on purpose. Life is cruel enough, don't add to it.
I believe in Karma and Karma always gets the last word. Photo Gallery: www.nbphotoart.net