Turtle Morning

Adi and I were running errands Saturday morning. A text from my husband, back at home, showed a large snapping turtle looking quite at home in our flower bed at the edge of our property. “Cool!” I replied. This is the second snapping turtle that has visited our yard in the last few years.

When Adi and I got home, we rushed out to the backyard for a closer look. Throughout the day, we kept going back to see if it was still there. We wondered if it was having trouble finding it’s way out of the yard, since most of the backyard is fenced in. “If it’s still there tomorrow,” I told my husband, “you’ll have to get it back over the fence. The poor thing is stuck.”

The next morning, as we were just waking up, Rose pointed out the back door, laughing at something. I looked out, wondering what she might have spotted that caught her eye. It took me a minute to spot a vulture type bird sitting on our lamppost at the end of the patio. I yelled to the rest of the family to check out Rose’s discovery. Unfortunately, they missed the massive bird.

But as everyone stared out the back window, Wren wondered aloud about the turtle. The girls begged to go out to see if the turtle was still in the yard. That’s how we all ended up outside before 8 am. The girls ran to the far flower bed only to come back reporting that the turtle was gone. “Check the rest of the yard,” my husband said. “Maybe it’s in a new spot.”

Right away, Adi pointed to her right, under the lamppost where the bird was perched earlier. “He’s right there,” she said and we looked at her suspiciously. Sure enough, there was the large snapping turtle, snuggling up to my lavender plant.

“You need to get it over the fence,” I said to Arnauld. He reluctantly went to the garage for a shovel. A few moments later, shovel in hand, he stood over the turtle without making a move. “Just do it swiftly,” I instructed.

“What’s swiftly mean?” Adi asked and then we had a quick vocabulary lesson, huddled around the turtle.

“I think I need a wider shovel,” Arnauld said still contemplating the task while walking back towards the garage.

I ran back into the house, to tend to the waffles I had cooking on the waffle iron. That’s when I heard Wren yell out, “He is laying eggs! He literally just pooped out an egg.” (Click here to see this phenomenon for yourself!)

Arnauld and I ran back outside. The turtle didn’t look like it had moved. “Are you sure?” I asked. “What did they look like?”

“They were white with brown spots. I saw two,” Wren reported just as we saw the turtle shift her body, pop out another egg, and then gently push it further into the hole it had dug using it’s back leg. We all watched in amazement. “I read a book about turtles,” Wren went on. They can lay 2-7 eggs.”

That’s when we turned to Google to find out more. It turns out snapping turtles can lay 20-40 eggs at a time and even sometimes up to 100! We kept watching. “Another one is coming,” Adi exclaimed.

“You’re not a nurse or anything,” Wren said as she rolled her eyes at Adi. “It’s amazing that they don’t even need a nurse or anything. When I read about turtles, I learned that they are born knowing everything they need to know.”

Back to Google, we read that turtles travel great distances to find a nesting spot.

“We’re so lucky this turtle chose our yard,” Wren said, eyes fixed on our sweet visitor. “I didn’t think anything exciting was going to happen today!”

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11 thoughts on “Turtle Morning

  1. This is the reason we write – you have frozen this moment in time – this movie in words. It is a gift to your girls and your family! You capture their words, the energy, the chaos and their father’s contemplative nature! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Oh! I just posted my guilt-ridden turtle post and then clicked on your wonder-filled one! Crazy! How I love this moment you captured with your family, and how lucky you are to be able to watch the egg laying and now anticipate the hatching to come! Each day has such potential for unexpected wonder, doesn’t it!

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  3. What do I love most about this? That the girls got to see this and chat it over? No that Wren remembered what she had read and compared her information to her new knowledge. This will be a story for a long time. I hope she writes about it.

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  4. WOW! What a morning. I felt like I was right with your family, watching the turtle. Turtles have always been a favorite animal of mine. I like their symbolism of slow and steady. Thanks for letting me “watch” a turtle today!

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  5. Your family story reminds me of the book “My Family and other Animals” – although your family sounds much more sensible! You’re very lucky to have so much wildlife around you!

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  6. Oh boy, and now you can watch those eggs until those baby turtles hatch knowing everything they need to know and march themselves toward water. Be careful! They don’t get their name for nothing!

    BTW– Another picture book in the making…

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