By Doug Harmon
As the spring days fade away and summer proceeds to take over, most people are sharing stories of the mushrooms they recently found or the deer sheds they discovered on their spring hikes. Talk is of planting flowers or their upcoming gardening chores ahead of them. Not for my wife Holly. One of her exciting times of the year is the snapping turtle's egg laying season. For about a month, two weeks pre-Memorial day to two weeks post Memorial Day snapping turtles lay their eggs.
For twenty five years my wife Holly and I have been the owners and caretakers of a parcel of land on the White River. This land has been in the family for fifty years and every year the turtles make their way up a 20' embankment to lay their eggs.
Semi-retirement is allowing us to spend more time observing the exciting movement of the snapping turtle. With the enthusiasm and excitement of an opening morning deer hunt, my wife awakens at 6 a.m. to start her morning turtle watch. Sipping on her coffee from the porch, binoculars in hand, she watches at first from a distance, giving the graceful turtles their privacy. Then the excitement overwhelms her and she has to get a little closer to observe this circle of life.
Routinely there will be 4-6 turtles each morning. Some days only one lonely turtle has the area to herself, some mornings the number will be as high as 12.
All of the turtle egg laying activity takes place in a 20' x 20' area. Most egg laying activity is done by late morning. The heat of the day takes over and the turtles rush to the 20' bank they had conquered to lay their eggs and they simply enjoy a tumbling slide back into the river.
In the fifty years of family ownership only once, my wife's grandpa Anderson, has someone witnessed this mythological hatching of an entire nest of turtle eggs.
On my wife's bucket list is to witness this phenomenon. We do see hatchlings from time to time but have never witnessed the entire nest at one time.
Her vigil includes keeping pesky critters of all fashion away from the eggs to allow the eggs to hatch, which takes about 30 days. Her enthusiasm has drifted over to some of our family and friends, who are also enjoying the simplicity and ceremonial task momma turtle goes through to complete the circle of life.
It has to be said that sometimes Mother Nature provides us with the most simple forms of satisfaction if we slow down long enough to look!
Letter to the Editor Policy
Near North Now welcomes original letters from readers on current topics of general interest. Simply fill out the form below. Letters submissions are limited to 300 words.