Tuesday, June 18, 2013

mr timothy turtle and sir franky frog...unlikely friends

With Julia and Nicholas at lacrosse camp and Jonathan at work, Elliott and I had the entire day together.  After some not so fun stuff, like laundry and grocery shopping, we headed out to kayak on the river, Elliott proudly doing a lot of the paddling by himself, me riding in the back, and steering discreetly.


Elliott had it in his head that he wanted to catch turtles.  We packed for this adventure, Elliott completely believing that we were both going to find a turtle (I was unsure) and then, once found, we were going to catch the turtle (I was certain we would not).  But Elliott very seriously and thoughtfully packed up everything he thought we would need: a long handled net, a plastic aquarium with air holes and a snap tight cover, and a rock, for the turtle to sit on in the bin once caught.  We were ready for anything.


We checked on the beaver dam.  


We found thick fern patches where there had been bare dirt a few weeks ago.


We saw that the water had been higher recently, leaving dusty traces of its height on the blackberry canes.


We thought about all the creatures that might be living in the intricate root systems uncovered by high water.  


The water lilies were just opening.


The river was muddy, with a thin layer of pollen, and cool to the touch as we roasted in the bright sun.


We went up the river, toward the branches of fallen trees, where we had seen turtles sunning themselves last year.

And there.  Sat one small and lonely turtle on a branch.  Phew, I thought.  I didn't really want to catch one of these poor creatures anyway.  Truthfully, this was a half-hearted search on my part.  The information at our Audubon Center that educates us against catching native turtles as pets has done its job.  And though Elliott really only wants to catch and release these creatures, I still feel badly about the trauma their time with us in the red kayak could inflict upon them.

Then Elliott silently, slowly, without panic, reached out toward the tiny turtle with his net.  And caught it.


Once caught and in his hands -- well, at the end of a long stick -- he seemed as unsure as I was about what to do with it.  He passed the net quickly to me.  While I banged and bumped and flailed about the kayak trying to untangle us from the branches and put the turtle in the bin, Elliott noticed a large frog on the bank, and before we knew it, we two humans had two creature passengers.


This, I was really not prepared for.  This frog had what can best be described as intense eye gaze.   He stared us down all the way home.  The turtle on the other hand, did everything he could to avert eye contact.  And flee.


But here we were, excited but a bit reluctant, and there they were, two unlikely friends.  In a small plastic box in the bottom of a kayak.  Between the turtle's scrambling swimming and the frog's extremely muscular jumping, it was a noisy ride back home.

Elliott, I noticed, was chatting quietly and reassuringly to them.  Talking to them about where we were, where we were going, telling them they were going to be ok.  He also told them that though he was tall, he was not a heron, and was not going to eat them.  He also was naming them. 

Because what Elliott really wanted to do next was get home to meet his brother and sister, who were just arriving home from camp with Jonathan, and introduce them to his bin and its temporary inhabitants.  


Note: the piercing stare continued.


They hung out in the kitchen for a few minutes while everyone except them had snacks, and then it was back to the river.  


To let them go.


Each in their own direction.


Back to their homes.  I wonder what they will tell their families of their adventures in the red kayak.  And whether they plan to adopt their new names.

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