“Making Her Way” www.melissabluefineartandgardendesign.com
When I was a kid my family lived on a small lake. The station for the train that took my dad into Chicago for work was at the far corner of that little lake. He could walk the half mile down our road, or he could have me paddle him across in the canoe. 🙂
He paid me a nominal amount, but by far the glee of our twice daily trips were the best wages I could have asked for. He is the one who arranged for camping trips in the mountains, trips to Yellowstone, etc. He sat on the end of the dock with me, regaling me with stories as our fishing poles lay forgotten beside us. Back then, it seemed like every morning brought a new and exciting discovery. The grass would swish, and there would be a SNAKE! Gazing into the water I’d see schools of bullhead, or sunfish, or fat tadpoles. Mid-summer would bring baby painted turtles perched on lily-pads~ it was paradise. And so, over time, those canoe trips would become show-and-tell times. All day I would be prowling the shoreline for new treasure to tell him about.
One afternoon I came across a turtle the likes of which I had never seen before. It sat there hissing at me, with its hooked mouth agape. Dragon spikes marched down it’s shell and tail. Wow! Who knew things like this existed? Dad had to see this! Cautiously I picked it up. As alligator snapping turtles go, this wasn’t a huge one but still. I got it into the canoe and paddled across, waiting for the train. What I failed to realize was that summer was ending, and days were getting shorter. So, by the time the train came and my dad climbed down the embankment and settled into the canoe, the light had quite faded. Turtle forgotten, we swapped tales as is our wont. After a bit, when we had fallen silent, there was a scratching sound on the bottom of the boat. My dad, cautiously,”…..what is that?” Me: “…..OH! Well, there is this enormous turtle I found…” Instantly we both had our feet up out of turtle range. To this day we laugh about that turtle.
There is something so epic about these turtles that I’ve always wanted to paint one. Isn’t she ancient and terrifying to look at? And yet, can you see her vulnerability? It is hard to know how to respond to nature, especially if it isn’t furry with big eyes. I’ve seen kids take sticks to these creatures, and biologists dispatch them into jars of formaldehyde. I think we are all searching for a way of knowing that we have forgotten.