Today I walked the land at Screech Owl to see how the creek level was doing in this dry spell, and to look for salamander egg packs or larvae. The branch was dried up, there were no vernal pools and the water in the main creek was milky colored from white clay. The water sat quite still between the banks, but at least there was water for folks to drink. It was extraordinarily quiet in the woods. Only one or two frogs sang, and on such a warm day. It gave me pause.
As I edged through the briars, they seemed to move out of the way. There are days when the briars don’t seem to want me in the woods, or, that I don’t seem in the right spirit to move peacefully through them, and there are days when I am made welcome. Today was one of the latter. A particularly thick briar patch had just gently eased open at my touch into a clearing when my foot stepped beside an intricate gold and brown patch of color. I stopped. Ah!
She, or he, was fast asleep. The round shell of the box turtle peeked out from the leaves where she snuggled in to rest through the cold time. I squatted with her a while, and named her “Two Stripe” for the markings on her carapace. After a long while, I began to wonder if she was alive, so I softly stroked her. She didn’t open her eyes, but she curled her toes. Satisfied, I eased away, very grateful for her presence, and fine with not knowing if she was a he. It was not worth disturbing her just to answer a science question. There will come a time when we will meet again, in a warm season, and I can sneak a peek. Box turtles do not stray far from their homelands. She calls Screech Owl her homeplace now.