As a "natural" gardener, one of the experiences I look forward to most is a serendipitous meeting with one of the many creatures that share the yard with us. Last weekend, we had one such encounter.
It was Greg that saw her first. He motioned for me to come quickly. I asked if I should get the camera and, since he nodded yes, I grabbed it and came running. There in the grass was a good-sized turtle, almost a foot long and at least 100 feet from the nearest water. Since we've had rain several times this spring and most ponds and creeks have at least some water in them, I assumed this was a female, presumably away from water to lay eggs.
It wasn't long after I shifted to fully prone that she finally decided to stick her nose out again.
It took just over an hour for my wandering red-eared slider to gain the courage to put her legs out and start moving. Her first move was to turn away from me, and away from the direction she was originally traveling, to move obliquely away from me.
As she went through the bright patch of henbit that was just on the edge of the tallgrass, she stuck her head up high to look around one last time, then she disappeared into the taller standing grass stems.
My heart clenches quite a bit over the fate of all those little turtles over the years, but in a way they were also serving as ambassadors, helping children connect firsthand with nature. How do our children do that these days? Or do they ever get a chance to truly connect with the natural world, in a firsthand way, at all? Touching, holding, watching, feeding, even getting stung or bitten - these are all important ways for children to connect with animals, to connect with nature. Watching TV isn't a good substitute at all - for all the fancy closeups in a good nature film, there is no sense of reality, no hands-on touching, no seat of the pants adventure or excitement.
I don't want baby turtles to sacrifice their lives to help our human children connect with nature any more...but I sure would like to see more families care for their gardens and their landscapes naturally, so that kids could, once again, have real world adventures in the real world of nature.