Monday, June 10, 2013

At Least It Wasn't a Snake

Tropical Storm Andrea brought an abrupt end to our drought-like conditions and dumped something like four inches of rain on our parched land.This made for a long and uneventful first swim meet and a few afternoons of movies and board games.

When we get weather like this, I love to run out to the swamp near us to see what's changed.

I share my Dad's love of water -- rivers, lakes, oceans, and, yes, even the swamp makes the list. My older boys so far do not share my love for walking the beach. What's the point, they wonder. What are we going to do, they ask.

What do they know? I love exploring water. The shore is never the same twice.

We log lots of time on the Great Lakes. After a ferocious storm one night, my sister Karen and I walked waaaay down the beach to search for a lost toy or two. We came upon the mother lode of items swept out and then back in by the waves of Lake Erie -- towels, floats, buckets, shovels. We could have held a yard sale with the loot we hauled away.

On Saturday morning the rest of the gang was busy sleeping late, attending a birthday party, and doing jobs around the house, so John and I took a brief hike across the swamp. The snakes were out in force. I can type this calmly only because they were at a distance. John was dying to catch something -- a lizard, a frog, a dragon fly. As we walked back to the car, I spotted a small turtle crossing the road.

"Catch it, John," I called.

John caught it, named it Batman, and then renamed it Mr. Turtle. We brought Mr. Turtle home.

Tim saw it and said, "Duuuuude, Mr. Turtle is my father. The name's Crush." He has a perfect Aussie meets Surfer accent and can still remember nearly every line of Finding Nemo. 

(Maybe I should strike that line. Tim's now fifteen and probably in denial about the number of times he watched that flick when he was little).

I told John we'd check with Mr. Swenson, science teacher extraordinaire, to see what kind of turtle we'd bagged. Mr. Swenson's the go to guy with
any form of wildlife. Bring a photo, a carcass, or a live specimen, and Steve will ID it. I texted Mr. Swenson and went about the rest of the day picking up Ainsley and getting Tim ready for camp. As Tim was making his list and checking it twice, I heard John yell, "Mr. Turtle is gone!"


Sure enough, Mr. Turtle was nowhere to be seen. I began to move a few items around gingerly, trying hard not to be surprised to find a living creature in Ainsley's comforter or behind John's fire engine. Gingerly soon turned to hurriedly as Mr. Turtle proved elusive. Soon I was pulling ever last item out of John and Ainsley's room. I dusted and vacuumed, pulled out all the furniture and unearthed the entire closet. I moved on to my room and then to Tim and Kolbe's. There were six people at home, and I found it hard to believe a turtle could march straight down the hall with no one spotting it.

Mr. Swenson texted me: Stop by. I'm in my backyard.

I texted back: Mr. Turtle has gone missing. I'm cleaning and beseeching Saints Francis and Anthony to come to our aid pronto!

He responded: Though not of theological correctness . . . a prayer to good ol' Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter, might be good, too.

Mr. Turtle was M.I.A., and I was worried. Worried that we would find Mr. Turtle when an unbearable stench began emanating from, I don't know, underneath the piano. Worried that John had overheard his parents discussing whether or not we could keep Mr. Turtle and had found a really good hiding place to render our catch and release efforts null and void. Worried because to this day I remember being about eight years old and pulling back a bookshelf to discover our long dead gerbil who had lost a fight with our cat. Worried that I also remember the fate of the turtle that spent a few hours in the cozy comfort of my sister's pocket.

Dave sat down with John and gently but firmly explained that without water, Mr. Turtle would die.
Meanwhile, I took a last look through the now spotless bedroom and, lo and behold, there sat Mr. Turtle wedged between a container of light sabers and the Lego table.

Mr. Swenson identified Mr. Turtle with a long Latin name and a simple English one: He was a mud turtle, and Mud Turtles bite.

By that point I was relieved. Three hours of  being a pet owner had not gone swimmingly. I need no extra drama in my life. Back to the swamp we went. We released Mr. Turtle into the wilderness, and he marched off, not surprisingly, at a rather brisk pace.

To keep everything in perspective, I watched this story of a dad and dog who teamed up to rescue a four-year-old Ainsley look-a-like who was cornered by a Cottonmouth.

Mr. Turtle seems nothing short of cuddly by comparison.


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Ami said...

Nice post Kel. Would you believe - Mark Holmberg, who did the report on the snake, is a local reporter in Richmond (CBS 6)? Small world!

Kris said...

We had that same rain in Atlanta. And some when I was in Augusta (briefly!) on Saturday. One of these days I will have some leisure time when I am there and we can meet! Glad you found the turtle - I can tell you a story about a missing gerbil, my niece and their dog. Bleh.

Kelly Dolin said...

Ami - CNN picked it up. Glad a local guy got some exposure. When are you heading to Pelee?

Kris - Please let me know if you're free. This rain has been incredible. I haven't seen weather like this in the 26 years I've been here. Beats the drought by a long shot!

christinelaennec said...

Gosh reading that made my blood pressure go up! I'm glad you found the turtle and were able to return him to his swamp.