Folk who live or work near a pond or lake may encounter turtles in the road nowadays. For instance, while driving on our wiggly country path, a little traveler appeared. In a turtle’s typical “I’ll get there when I get there” disposition, he paid my automobile no mind.
“Okay, little guy. You’re making me nervous,” I said and hit the “warning” button for oncoming cars on the blind curve behind me.
Within seconds I’d secured the reptile on the wooded shoulder close to a pond, which I assumed to be his home. Feeling relieved by the rescue, I continued to my local post office.
Not five minutes later, there the critter crept away from the pond at the same, dangerous place. Nonetheless, I repeated my good deed, drove home and informed my husband of such heroics.
“Was it a snapper?” he asked.
“I’ve never learned to identify Michigan turtles, so I can’t say.”
“You’ll know a snapper when you see one.”
Mel learned to identify snappers and other common reptiles while spending summer weekends in and around Michigan’s Grand Lake. My father drove our family to Wildwood Park near Holly for picnics and day at the lake with relatives. I can’t remember meeting a snapper.
However, as many mothers, Mom bought my sisters and me little green turtles to hold captive in a plastic oasis and feed with special food. Sadly, her investment didn’t pay off with teaching us pet responsibility and developing an interest in herpetology.
Soon after my above turtle encounter, I stood at the check-out in Piechinks Garden Gate, a local nursery located on Rochester Road. The cashier and I jumped at the sound of a crash outside.
“Oh, I hope that’s not an accident!” she said.
I left the store with two luscious ferns and a flat of blooming impatiens to at last complete my garden embellishments. Then I saw a truck parked on the northbound shoulder of Rochester Road. Adjacent to the truck, a woman stood by a car in a southbound intersection, watching a man. One arm in a sling, with a booted foot he moved something that looked like roadkill off the road.
No one pulled up behind me to exit the parking lot, so I sat for several seconds to decipher the man was the driver of the abandoned truck. The animal came into focus. A head emerged from a large shell. And clawed feet and dinosaur-type tail.
Oh no, a snapper attempted to cross Rochester Road.
As I turned onto the northbound lane, the man persisted to push the turtle closer to safety into a wooded area. The woman watched by her car.
I thought of the little guy I’d saved twice, and was thankful this man took interest and time to help this ancient lake dweller avoid death by collision with an automobile.
Dear Reader, considering the species can live a hundred years, I’m wondering just how many close calls that snapper has had in his crossings.
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