Happy accidents and the Zen Little Terrapin

Every now and then, perhaps when you need it most, something amazing and unexpected happens. I am not sure if this is coincidence, synchronicity, serendipity or a gift from the Divine.

I nearly stumbled over my happy accident letting the dog out this past Saturday. Olive the goat-hound was circling something on our riverbank.  I,  poised with coffee in hand, was waiting to see her stop, drop and roll – standard procedure when something delightfully smelly and dead is in her midst. But, she only sniffed and stared.

May 2009 043What she was sniffing and staring at confounded me at first – I thought it was  a rock, until I saw two eyes staring back at me.  Our dear little crackhead (a term of endearment for our pup) had directed my attention to a turtle momma laying eggs in a nice stretch of mushroom blend mulch, smack dab in the middle of the spot I had pegged for a wagon full of day-lilies. She was about a foot in diameter, and sporting a nice wig of dirt.  Her paddle like front feet were anchored in the soil and her back feet straddling a hole. Her entire being was completely absorbed in the task at hand. She seemed serene and certainly paid no attention to us. Why, with me and my camera and Olive and her barking and sniffing, you would have thought she would have become distracted but she was in the zone, a very zen little terrapin.

After each and every egg, she very gently tucked them into their little dirt bed. I, taking on the self-appointed role of turtle Douala, watched her lay another seven eggs, while keeping the dog and my toddler at a safe distance. I had the strangest urge to offer her ice chips, but decided to give her my glowing praise and verbal encouragement instead, all the while knowing it was equally unnecessary. And, when she had strained the very last egg from her tiny body, I watched with sympathetic exhaustion as she ever so carefully covered her nest with dirt and lumbered her way back to the water and disappeared into the tidal grass.  What a leap of faith that departure must have been considering the neurotic voyeurs standing so close to her helpless baking brood.  But she never looked back, not even when my 3-year-old yelled “Goodbye turtle – see you later.” 

 From my limited, amatuer research on the topic it will be late July or early August before the shellback pack makes an appearance and that’s if they survive undisturbed by the resident racoons, foxes, muskrats and a certain blunderhound in the area.  But, if we are very, very lucky, if the planets are aligned just so, if our goat-dog has her nostrils pointed in the right direction, perhaps we will get to witness another miracle of happenstance . . . stay tuned!