This past Sunday morning we woke to blue skies after wind & rain the night before. After I had finished breakfast with my wife & kids, I went outside to go work in my slowly dying vegetable garden (another blog for another time) when I noticed that the stupid pool cleaner had gotten itself stuck under the ladder in the deep end again. So I detoured over to wrestle it out of its predicament again. As I was walking around the edge of the pool, a movement in the corner of my eye caught my attention. There in the middle of the pool was a baby turtle making like Michael Phelps. I was about to go get the small scoop to lift him out when I saw another baby turtle and another baby turtle and another baby turtle. At this point I looked up and around the rest of the pool and realized that this was going to be a bigger job than my little handheld scoop was going to be able to handle and I was going to need some help & a bucket. (Thank you Home Depot)
The kids came flying out of the house when I called them and after the requisite “oohs & aahs” & “They’re so cute” & “Daddy can we keep them? (NO)” we started to slowly collect them all by the tail and drop them in the bucket. One of the children then opened one of the skimmers and there were even more. I quickly ran over and turned off the filter and immediately out came dead bugs, live bugs, leaves and turtles & more turtles. By the time we were sure we had them all, we had a total of 26 baby snapping turtles in the Home Depot bucket. Not really enough for Turtle Soup but then again, I didn’t have any sherry and I didn’t feel like going to the liquor store anyway.
Luckily for our new found friends, we have a brook that runs through the woods behind our house that feeds into a couple of other streams & ponds. We carried the bucket down to the water’s edge and the 4 kids (we had one sleeping over) & I began to release these little guys into the wild. Some of them hung out in the shallows or climbed up on rocks. While some of the others ventured right out into the current and headed downstream. One of the children asked me if I thought they would all live and I had to be honest with them. I told them while all 26 surely would have died in our pool, all 26 now had a chance to live being let go in the wild. The Blue Heron who lives in neighbor’s pond may beg to differ with me on that point however. Circle of Life and all that Lion King stuff you know. And to be honest, I really don’t need or want 26 snapping turtles living in my yard & returning to hatch babies in my pool next year.
An hour after we let the turtles go I went back to the brook and saw that there were still five of the turtles hanging out in the shallows & on the rocks. An hour after that, I could only find one. The next afternoon it was like they had never been there. They will however, always be there in our memories. I’ll never forget the reactions & the looks on the kids’ faces as they first scooped them up and then as they let them go. I’ll never forget the joy in their voices as they watched them swim away. And I’ll never forget how much they reminded me of how good the turtle soup is at Café Desire in the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street.