Fast track …
May 28, 2009 § 14 Comments
My grandfather, Pop, was a woodsman before he went to work in Washington and he used to tell us stories about his adventures in the North Woods ( a term he used to describe both upstate New York and Canada.) One of his hunting tails included a Native American friend , Tim, who hunted with Pop sometimes. Tim was the best scout and hunter in the territory. His eyesight was unfailing. He could see for miles; could spot a bird, a rabbit, a deer from hills away. Pop explained Tim’s talent: “It was that he knew what didn’t belong there.” He’d spot something that was out of place from the usual familiarity of the terrain he knew so well.
I get that. It happened the other day on the way to work. I rounded a corner and pointed the car up the hill. I’ve been going that way for years. I know the land on the way up the hill, the few houses there, the open field that slopes to the creek and the woods on the right. Some mornings, I am extremely lucky and looking down onto the field can see deer, sometimes 6 or 7 of them, grazing. They are so darn blase, and comfortable. I’m glad they’re comfortable.
But on this particular morning. as I started up the hill, something caught my eye, something brown and in a few seconds and after driving about 50 feet, I looked in the rearview mirror and could see the brown thing there by the side of the road. I knew it didn’t belong there. What was it? I had to see. I pulled over and let the car roll backwards slowly down the hill ’til I was next to it. I leaned across the passenger seat to look through the window. Turtle. No, TURTLE! What? A huge honking thing. What, was he stuck on a piece of wood or something?
I grabbed my camera. I was already late for work. Might as well capture some wildlife here in the midst of suburbia. I walked slowly around the car ’til i could see him. But, how could you miss him? This terrapin was big enough to pull a Red Flyer wagon. And where I thought he was standing or caught on something? It was his LEGS! Geez, the guy was huge. Honestly, he shell was no less than 18 inches long. Just his shell.
I didn’t want to get too close because I wanted a picture of him with his head sticking out. OK, I didn’t want to get too close becasue maybe this was some hellbent ninja turtle that could easily bite. Apparenlty he’s had great success in biting and eating something. Hey, I am respectful of others, including turtles whose feet-claws are nearly as big as my own hands. And the tail? I suspected that he could whip it around like a weapon. So I stayed back, dressed in my little go-to-work suit and he stayed there, dressed in his handsome shell and I heard cars going by, slowing to see what was going on but we ignored everything during our mutual picture session.
He stayed there patiently, eyeing me (I think) as I snapped several pictures.
And then I wished him a good day and flipped the lens cap back on my camera and got in my car and headed to the office. Yes, we went at different speeds, Mr. Turtell and I, but I suspect, I hope, he got where he was going, possibly, as they say, before I did.