This post was originally published May 4, 2008.
Check this out. I have been watching this particular red maple on Hardison Drive in Quail Hollow all spring. What amazing red color from the early samsaras, which emerge and mature before the first spring leaves. Cool shift through orange as the helicopter seeds slowly lose out to the foliage.
So last week my high school teacher assistant, Randall, a senior helping with my 6th grade science class, brings in a turtle. Except this turtle made my day, entertained almost my entire school population, and impressed the heck out of us all. He was huge! For a 6th grade classroom, anyway. My students of all ages were in awe as I lifted him from the back and displayed the gaping, snapping mouth and long sharp claws. By day’s end I had little claw marks all over my hands. On the other hand, this snapper was weary and disgusted. I promised Randall I would find a nice spot to release him. (Randall had hooked him by the leg with a casting line and hauled him out of the lake in his backyard, where he certainly was not expected back). I though of Blue Jay Point, where I have released ailing box turtles and morose sliders. I thought of Lassiter Mill, where I have seen, just as I mentioned in the recent post on that subject, animal control officers release unwanted specimens. This was a big, dangerous turtle ( though they do get over twice this size), and I decided I wanted an undeveloped stretch of water. Crabtree on the east end of Buckeye Trail was the obvious solution. Snapper could climb up the bank into the Marsh Creek marsh by Yonkers Road, or float on down to Anderson Point and find the Neuse River, with lots of side choices along the way.
So I wrestled him back into his tub one last time and drove to Milburnie Road and parked. As I got out, a small peculiar lady with four young children came ambling down the road. I spoke to them and explained I was a science teacher who could share something interesting if they had a minute. The kids were appropriately aghast and entertained, but Mom had other ideas.
” You don’t mean you going to turn that turtle loose! You can give that turtle to me. I’d love to have it.”
Now even if it wouldn’t have been crazy to give a strong, heavy, dangerous reptile to a small woman with four small kids, I knew exactly why she wanted it, and I was having no part of it.
“You just want to cook this turtle! I’m going to turn it loose like I promised Randall.”
And the woman just wouldn’t let go of the idea that I might give her this turtle. She wanted it badly. She and her kids watched as I started off down the greenway, lugging the tub. They started on down Milburnie, but were clearly watching through the trees. So rather than turning him loose in the small tributary right next to Milburnie, as I had planned, I heaved and puffed with the tub all the way down to Crabtree. I set him on the grass and took these photos. Then I slid him down the bank and took the video linked below.
I was right proud of myself as a Baby Boomer teacher who has embraced the 21st century, because I was able to show my students ( and especially Randall) this video post on Pecans & Mistletoe, my nature projects blog, the very next day. They didn’t have to trust my account, they could watch this turtle go into Crabtree. Hope you enjoy it as well.