Today I had to make a trip to our fine sister city, Ortonville, MN. I chose to take the dyke road between Big Stone City and Ortonville, as I usually do. It’s such a lovely drive and a nice little short cut. Or at least it seems like a short cut. I don’t know that it actually cuts any time or distance off my travel, however.
But it’s always pleasant to drive the road between Big Stone Lake and the marsh. There is sure to be some wildlife sighting. It abounds with ducks, geese, heron, and sometimes bald eagles. Today there was a sweet little turtle making it’s way across the road towards the lake. I first noticed it just as a dark spot in the road and as I got closer, realized it was a baby turtle, probably only three inches in diameter. Oh how cute! Unfortunately, it was right in the path of my wheels, but I managed to swerve just a bit and missed the wee bit of a guy. I glanced in my rear view mirror and watched, as I held my breath and said a prayer, as the pick-up following me narrowly missed it. If that turtle had his tail out, he surely lost it, it was that close.
I resolved at that moment to return home via the same route and to help the turtle to his destination, assuming he lived until after I made my delivery.
That’s the kind of gal I am. When I set out on a journey at dusk (I’m never up early enough for a journey at dawn) or at night, I always say this prayer, “Lord, please protect the animals from me and my car.” I am not at all concerned about my little Poppy, she can be repaired. But the animals! It’s not their fault that I am barreling down the road at 65 miles an hour when they decide to cross the road! They don’t have the advantage of crossing guards or pedestrian crosswalks. We humans just inconveniently decide to put roads up in the middle of their residential areas without even consulting them. How unjust.
So I drive very carefully, watching closely for the critters, praying that they will be protected from me.
When I do see a dead animal along or in the road, I am so, so sad. Whether it’s a deer or a possum, a raccoon or even a skunk, I feel sorry for it. I see its poor eyes (in my imagination) and I wonder about its family - the little ones. Or its mother, if it’s a little one. When I see a dead cat or a squirrel I am heartbroken. And turtles! Hello! It’s not like a turtle suddenly jumps out onto the road, surprising everyone. How in the world can someone not avoid a turtle? There is no excuse for hitting a turtle.
Frogs, on the other hand, I can understand. When I am on my way home from work at night and the highway is literally covered with hundreds of frogs the only way to avoid driving on them is to not drive. Which, if I want to get home, is not possible. So I wince all the way home, squishing frogs as I go. Ick.
And when I actually am the one who hits an animal, I almost cry. Fortunately, I have only hit birds, with the exception of the one time I hit a squirrel. I did actually cry when I killed the squirrel. It broke my heart.
So when I get together with my lady friends and they all bemoan the “dumb deer” that are roaming about and threatening to do damage to their cars, I am cheering the deer on and praying that they’ll be safe. I couldn’t care less about the dumb cars. The body shops need business, anyway, right?
As for my little turtle, when I went back he was safely on the very far edge of the road, having made it all on his own. I saluted him as I went by and wished him a good day. What a trouper he is.