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

Book Review: The Promise: A Fly Angler's Long Journey Home By Paul A. Cañada

My favorite stories are the ones that give the author depth and serve as a window of insight into a writer's mind. Within the first few pages, it is important for me to develop a connection with the author, less I will quickly lose interest. I don't mean to sound like some type of literary elitist by any stretch– it's just me being honest.  Reading the first chapter in Paul Cañada's new book, The Promise , I felt that connection immediately. Paul tells of his childhood growing up in a military family, having a father in the Air Force, and the moves and re-adjustments that had to be made each time his father received new orders to relocate. I did not grow up in a military family, nor did my family move from place to place, but the relationship between Paul and his dad gripped me from the beginning. For me, this laid the groundwork for what was to come.  As his bio states, Paul Cañada is an award-winning writer and photographer with bylines in dozens of magazi

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

Hunting the Hard Way

Early morning sun catches my eye as it peeks over the horizon. It seems I am at odds with the world this morning. Already a crow has found my hideout in the tree branches, and pointed me out to his comrades as a spy for the human kind among the oaks. Only minutes later, the squirrel that emerged from the ball of dried leaves in a high fork betrays my location with a series of shrill barks, and I’m sure that every deer within twelve miles knows of my plan and will steer clear of this patch of woods from now until two hours after sunset this evening.  Once the alarm calls fade, all is quiet again, too quiet. It is always coldest after daylight, and I sit shivering, without so much as a wren or finch scratching around in the leaves, or hopping from branch to branch to entertain me. For two hours I sit with nothing but thoughts of a warm bed to occupy my time. Forlorn and desperate for some sort of action, I lower my bow to the ground and climb down from the tree. I need to do