nature studies

1.  A turtle the size of a small bread plate is trying to cross the road beside the Shoppers Drug Mart. A large crow walks behind, peck pecking pecking at its shell. The car in front gets so close I see the turtle duck. I pull over, blocking almost a whole lane. I get out of my car. The crow flies off and I’m standing beside the turtle, pointing at it, indicating to oncoming traffic in both directions that it should go wide. People smile. No one honks. I’m grateful.

I don’t want to pick it up; I’m partly afraid of hurting it and partly afraid of it hurting me. It occurs to me how little I know about amphibians. They don’t bite do they? My plan, such as it is, is to shuffle along, keep directing traffic until the poor thing gets to the other side. The problem is all these cars. The turtle soon retreats into its shell and stays there. Another car stops, a woman gets out. She says she’s not afraid to pick up the turtle, that she’s got paramedic grade hand sanitizer in her trunk. I continue directing traffic while she takes pictures (oddly, I’m without a camera), then asks me to take one of her holding it. She smiles like it’s an award (and in a way it is) while traffic veers around us. Finally, we get down to business, agree it was probably heading toward a small pond down a grassy bank opposite us. She carries it to the edge of the water and I see its head come out, see the yellow markings under its chin as it scoots into the reeds.

Back at our cars, the woman shows me her paramedic grade hand stuff; she has a whole medical kit, although she’s not a paramedic, she says, just likes to be prepared. In fact, she tells me, not long ago, she helped clean up an elderly woman who’d fallen in a parking lot and scraped herself from head to toe. We get into our respective cars and drive off in the same direction. Eventually she turns into a Timmy’s and I continue on to Canadian Tire.

2.  There are baby robins somewhere in our yard. I haven’t seen them but I can hear them. The serviceberries are disappearing and the worms are looking worried. 

3.  I noticed yesterday for the first time that a yellow finch doesn’t fly like other birds. It flies like this: flapflapflapflapflapflapflap… gllllllllllllllllllllliiiide…. flapflapflapflapflap…. gllllllllllllllllliiide. Like aerial running jumps before becoming a wee missile, wings tucked close to its body.

4.  When a fly enters your car at, say, point A, and doesn’t exit (despite open windows) until, say, point X—about 50 kms away—how confused will it be? Will it find its way home or just move into the new neighbourhood? What about its kids? Do flies sleep?

5.  A van cuts me off. I watch as the driver—a guy who hangs his whole left arm out the window, his multi-ring-bedecked hand dangling down the side as if broken—continues to veer in and out of traffic, erratically, cutting off every car in turn, a Baby on Board sign prominently displayed in his back window.

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3 thoughts on “nature studies

  1. Love reading your observations…you have a way of making me look at things differently just from sharing your constant awareness of the world around us. I am too often busy in my own head.

    And thanks for identifying the birds in my yard…I wondered what kind of little bird it was that had an unusual flight pattern! Now I know it’s a yellow finch :)

  2. Love these posts and look forward to them in my inbox every day :) The turtle, the bird, the worried-looking worms…

    Maryann lately related the tale of ushering a snapping turtle off a road using her windshield scraper.

    My husband and I once stopped eight lanes of highway traffic to help a mallard family across, there being a pond on either side. It seems the pondweed is always greener in one or the other.

    1. It’s the least we can do for the critters, isn’t it? I mean after paving over paradise and all…

      Thanks for nice words (and mentioning Maryann’s blog; I looked it up. Lovely! Must add her to my list.).

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