Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Crossing paths



Out from the cover of the woods, where her brown and gold-flecked shell would have hidden her well in the filtered sunlight, the warmth has awakened her.
The knee-high green of the pasture barely parts as she moves through. Only here, at the trail’s edge, would I ever find her—brilliant yellow markings of sun and shadow on her head, an orange scaled foot not yet withdrawn.

A perfect little camouflaged box—protection from intruders.
Her wary eye wonders why I stare.
And wait.










I see them so seldom now, these memories from my childhood—when turtles were common and roads fewer.
Our world has changed.
She cannot.


I came across a male not far from here last fall, larger and more yellow.
He disappeared into the golden leaves of last fall’s drought.
I hope he finds her too.

Turtleneck

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18 comments:

Lynne said...

What an amazing series of photos Nina! Could a creature be more beautiful? I've never seen a box turtle.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have found a couple of these beauties this spring too. I don't know how to tell the difference in the sexes.???? They are gorgeous creatures.

nina said...

Lynne,
I wonder if your season of warmth is too short for them?

Lisa,
Shell proportions, eye color and shape of lower shell are the hints.
Females have a more domed shell for greater egg capacity inside, males tend to have flatter shell profile, brilliant red eyes, and concave lower shell for mounting females.

T.R. said...

Growing up in the 60's -- these beautifully adorned reptiles marched across our lawn regularly. By the 70's they were all gone, along with the horned toads. So glad you can still find them. There are much too many ghosts of things remembered.

MojoMan said...

Oh, you're so lucky to have box turtles! Like T.R., they were a very important part of my childhood and a big reason I came to love nature. It's amazing to think that one I collected as a small boy could still be out there today...if given half a chance. I haven't seem one in years. A small, slow creature doesn't have a prayer against speeding cars and exploding development.

nina said...

I spent several summers as a child at the UO Biological Station in Oklahoma. I remember well, the abundance of those years.

Trixie said...

Is she as tiny as I think? Are you holding her between your fingers?

She is a beauty.

nina said...

Her shell was about 3" wide, 4" long--her head the size of my thumb. So, not as small as the perspective might make her appear. Although I've found smaller, from time to time.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to find little walnut-sized babies??

Michelle said...

Wow, what stunning photos!! We don't have turtles around here -- I think it's too dry. The only "wild" turtle I saw was a lonely little pet turtle we rescued from the middle of our road! He was making a break for it. He made it pretty far too, but he was better off at home I think.

Thanks for sharing your photos.

Ruth said...

I have never seen one of these turtles. Your pictures are so interesting. It looks like a fine sculpture.

bobbie said...

I enjoy the comments from your visitors too.

We saw many box turtles when I was a child. I live near the Wetlands Institute now, and see many each year - unfortunately, trying to cross the highway. Most do make it, since signs are posted and most people seem to care enough to stop. I knew one man who stopped to save a snapping turtle, was bitten for his trouble, and threw the poor thing quite a distance. I hope that one made it.

Old Wom Tigley said...

What a beauty. and such a great show of colour

Mary said...

Nina, I'm also a turtle-lover and your photos brought back so many memories, too. Great sequence of the shy guy. Great post as usual. I have some catching up to do!

david mcmahon said...

Clearly a case of turtle recall!!

Jennifer said...

What an absolutely gorgeous animal! Great pictures!

Kathiesbirds said...

How I miss the turtles! I rescue them whenever I find them in the road. Wish we could all slow down more!

TheElementary said...

Stunning. This is wonderful. I really like turtles although I've only had the chance to see them while I was boating on a river.
Your words are as wonderful as the pictures.

Marvin said...

Great photos, Nina. Unfortunately, I haven't seen a box turtle yet this spring. :-(