About this time of year, turtle hatchlings like this little snapper emerge and make their way to the creek like all the generations before them. Why the turtle mom chose to lay her clutch behind my daughters' swing set is beyond me, but she has for the past couple of years. This young turtle had somehow evaded the cat and the lawnmower, and he was found climbing the high bank in front of our house-- the turtle equivalent of El Capitan. We set the little snapper off on his journey and whispered a prayer for his safe travels.
Earlier this summer, an eastern river cooter layed her clutch beside our back porch and as of yet, there is no sign of their hatching. We watched and waited, but so far, nothing. Maybe our presence and the presence of our dog caused her to change her mind. That night, the soil was packed tight, and we were sure she'd finished the job and returned back to the water in the dark. We are still waiting...
All over the yard now, there are tiny orange toads jumping out of the way with every step I take. We've had a bumper crop of toads this year, and tree frogs, too. Every morning as I go out to door to work I find them stuck to the vinyl siding and our porch rails, watching for bugs attracted by the porch lights. They come in the house, and I wouldn't mind if they'd eat the spiders and house flies that the kids keep letting in.
The frogs and turtles we find around our house are signs to us that life will go on. Our kids catch toads and worm snakes, watch caterpillars and yellow garden spiders do their work, and it brings them great joy-- almost as much joy as it brings me to watch them interact with nature. We make it a point around our house to find those teachable moments that happen every day if you look close enough. My son was a snake hunter from day one, and he too, makes a point to bring a snake he's found to show his sisters and tell them all he knows about the subject. My oldest, Anna, chooses to view creepy crawlers at a football field distance, and that's OK, too.
These little things are gifts from God. The other night, my daughters and wife and I watched an orb weaver make her web, start to finish. Afterword, they had me "Google" all the information I could find on the spider and it's web making. We spent time together learning, and knowledge is the greatest gift of all.