Saturday evening, the girls and I went outside to explore around the pond. We were going to see if we could get a good look at the otters–we now have seen 3 or 4 of them from our back porch. My rude neighbor insists that they are large rats (how dare I oppose his infallible opinion).
Off we went, down to the edge of the water to find several areas along the edge of the pond where the otters have made large burrows into the mud, but there was no sign of any of them.
We continued over to the walkway that goes out to the gazebo, walking very quietly… as if every single bit of wildlife didn’t already know we were there. After just a few steps onto the wooden bridge, something caught my eye on the left edge of the pond. I looked and saw something move– it was poking out of the surface of the water.
We all stopped to get a closer look, and after much cogitation, realized that it was a turtle’s tail and clawed foot. Most of the turtle was under the mud, all you could see was his leg, some of his belly, and his tail that had ridges across the top like a dragon or an alligator. His claws were at least an inch long, and M’s voice kept ringing in my head that in our pond he had seen the biggest snapping turtle he had ever seen in his life.
I was afraid and curious at the same time, and I’m sure the girls were too. Curious ruled the day, so I took some little pebbles and started dropping them on the turtle (not to hurt him) to see if he would come out of the mud. We kept our distance and continued to drop pebbles on him. He would just kind of twitch his tail around some, so I went and got a long stick. I gently poked his foot, and he would pull it back a little, but that was about all we could get him to do.
I imagined again how big this turtle must be, and concluded that he must be so old and big because he is very wise and is not tempted by people like me who just want him to come out of the mud. So, we tried the silent approach. We stood there very still and quiet for a long time hoping that he would think we left, and finally show himself.
It was getting late and we went inside. When E was saying her prayers that night, she asked God to please make the turtle stay where he was so that we could show him to Papa the next day.
On Sunday, after we all got home from church, we all went immediately from the car down to the pond to see if the turtle was still there. He was. And he was in the exact same position as he was when we left him the night before. I threw a pebble. Nothing. I poked him with a stick. Nothing. My heart sank.
I walked over to the edge of the pond and wedged the stick under his shell and flipped him over. Nothing. He was dead.
I felt horrible. Here I was torturing this poor turtle is his last hours of life. His little head stuck in the mud, wondering why he is being poked– and wanting to be helped. It makes me want to just cry thinking about it. I could have flipped him over and maybe he would have survived. Why didn’t I determine that a turtle is not capable of flipping himself over on his own? Stupid me. I was afraid of getting bit by a turtle, and my fear got in the way of saving his life. This is my fallen state exposed.
So there he is, memorialized in the picture above, dead. Probably because of me… either that, or it’s E’s fault for her prayer.
I guess it was just his time.