Skip to main content

Small Gifts

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.


  1. Great post, Josh We can learn a lot from our neighbors, and they can gain from us, too. The groundhog who ate all my okra this summer has apparently decided to den under our back porch this winter. The black racer who keeps our garage clear of rodents looks to have grown a foot over the summer. Me, I've just grown older, but I've been in good company. The good Earth wants us to belong in her family, if we are willing to take our part.

    1. Thank you Henry. Yes, our neighbors can add quality to our life, that is for sure. I found myself laughing at a gaggle of finches the other day, as they argued feverishly amongst themselves. It was clear that they had a disagreement. Laughed out loud.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

A Fisherman Remembers Jocassee Valley

In my search for information on the history and tradition of fly fishing for trout in the mountains of South Carolina, I was extremely fortunate to have made the acquaintance of a true all-around outdoorsman and native son of the Appalachians, Dr. Thomas Cloer.  Our correspondence so far has been by telephone only, but I hope that once this current health crisis dies down, we can get together in person. When I first contacted Mr. Cloer, I didn't know what to expect. Why would he be interested in anything I had to say? But I was pleasantly surprised when he returned my call. Within the first moments of our conversation, I felt as if I had known him forever. Maybe it was the kinship felt between two fly fishermen, or perhaps it was his kind voice, warm and familiar, a voice steeped in the tradition and language of the Southern Appalachians. "Joshua, I would be more than happy to talk to you about fly fishing." Dr. Thomas Cloer is Professor Emeritus of Furman Univers

A Letter To My Father

Two years ago, this very night, you were still here among the living. You had no idea of what was to come in the early hours of the morning, but I know you had some inkling. You'd been talking about it for a while, and the Sunday before, I was told that you 'd made things right.Your mind and body were weak from fighting to hold onto your spirit, but your spirit was so much stronger, and it was determined to be set free. Your pain would soon be over, but you liked to fight, always did. You were the most stubborn human being that I have ever known, and I know that at the end, you were no different. I'm sure it wasn't your choice to go, despite all those times you cried, saying you wanted to die and be put out of your misery. When the medics had worked so long on you and decided to give up on you, your heart started back beating, as if out of spite.  I wonder sometimes what those last few hours were like for you. I wish I could've been there for you, like all the times

Love Letter

I wake this morning, to find your scent still lingering on my skin. With sleep in my eyes, I try to shake the heady buzz from the hours of being entwined with you the day before. I feel your residual energy flowing all around me. I step into the shower just to feel the rivulets of water wash over my body. You are all I can think about this morning, and I know that I will not find peace until I return to your side. I am completely, utterly, and desperately obsessed with you. When I look upon you, I am captivated. I am enamored by your beauty, by your natural sensuous movements. I follow every curve, trace all of your soft edges with my eyes, immerse myself in the rise and fall of your breath. You whisper mysteries known only to the deepest parts of my consciousness, and the narrative you speak to my heart is as old as the earth. I have watched you suffer mistreatment at the hands of so many before. You have been taken advantage of, used and abused, stripped of your purity. I