Posted by: Jamie Stamm | May 25, 2008

Finding nature in our own backyard

When my husband and I were looking for our first home 5 1/2 years ago, we weren’t too big on subdivisions. For the two years prior, we had been living in a duplex that was a bit off the beaten path, and we had gotten used to being surrounded by a lot of nature and not a lot of neighbors.

But when we first stood in the kitchen of what is now our house (which is located – you guessed it – in a subdivision) and looked out over the back yard, we were a little more OK with the idea.

We live at the center of a cul-de-sac, and our yard backs up to what we affectionately call “the swamp.” It’s actually a wooded area with a creek flowing through it, and it brings tons of wildlife right to our doorstep. At this time of year, that means bunnies, ducks, frogs, deer and snakes (I’ve yet to see one, but my neighbor said he encountered a five-foot black snake one afternoon while mowing his lawn), and just yesterday I saw my first fox. We also have all manner of birds in our trees year-round, and I love waking up in the mornings to the sight and sound of cardinals, blue jays and wrens (our cat, on the other hand, finds it absolutely tortuous).

So Jerry and I weren’t too surprised this afternoon when Cera came across a fairly large turtle just over the property line in our neighbor’s yard.  We were fascinated, the kids were fascinated (although Cera was miffed over our “no touching the turtle” rule), and the turtle … well, I think he was a little freaked out since he only poked his head the tiniest bit out of his shell.

Cera named the turtle Thomas and apparently thought he was about to become our new pet. She burst into tears when I said we had to go inside and that, no, Thomas couldn’t come with us. But I promised her that in 10 minutes, we’d check on Thomas’ progress as he worked his way back to the creek.

I thought turtles were supposed to be slow, but not our Thomas. Ten minutes later, our reptile friend was nowhere to be found. Cera’s grief was brief (a bowl of homemade strawberry ice cream made everything better), and she was happy to see the photo proof of her afternoon spent observing Thomas the Turtle.

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