In a snap
Last week I was returning home from work, pulling in the driveway, as I noticed the sun gleaming off something nestled in the grass near a ditch at the periphery of the property.
A second glance provided that the gleaming thing was the shell of a large snapping turtle, its shape silhouetted by the evening sun.
After unpacking the car, I headed out across the yard to check on my reptilian visitor. As I got within a few feet of the turtle, I noticed something odd. This turtle was being incredibly still. Even for a turtle.
Also odd was the way its neck was extended. While snapping turtles will often recoil into their shells when approached, anyone who’s ever moved one from a roadway knows they actually have fairly long necks. This one was sitting with its neck extended, head craned slightly up toward the sky, its body facing the direction of a wetland across the road.
Walking to the front of the turtle, my suspicions were confirmed. Where its eyeballs should have been were sockets beginning to writhe with bugs. This turtle had shed its mortal coil. Merged with the infinite.
But this turtle was intact. Perfectly so. No outward sign of damage or disease. It seems entirely possible the creature had simply died of natural causes, right there in its final resting place of my front yard.
I went back to the house and waited for my other half to get home, on the off-chance she wanted to be the one to deal with the giant turtle carcass.
She did not.
Armed with a round-mouth shovel, I made my way back to the spot on the lawn where the turtle had become one with the universe.
As I lifted it, I marvelled at the snapper’s prehistoric evolution, its spiked tail, its webbed claws.
With its neck and limbs hanging limp, it looked like a miniature dinosaur balanced on the end of my shovel.
Like other turtles, snappers can live a long time, up to a century or more, in rare cases. Given they can live as long as humans, and given the size and appearance of this particular turtle, I thought about how it was quite possibly older than me. I wondered where it had roamed in its probable decades.
I took the turtle across the road, placing it gently in a forested area near the wetland.
I thought about how lucky we are to share this area with such incredible creatures.
Or, perhaps more accurately, for them to share it with us.