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Three-Turtle Rain

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Chet and I go along from his turtle discovery, up the mist-wreathed ridgetop I love so well.

It's thundering a little, and we're more than two miles from home. I consider leaving my iPhone in the barn at the old farmstead, but then I'd miss all the photos on the way back. Decide to take my chances. 
Good thing, too, because we stumble upon this electrifying scene as we approach the farmstead.

Holy cow. It's a three-turtle rain. This magnificent dark knight, a male, is investigating a golden jewelbox. I suspect it may be a female, from his obvious interest. I wonder if they peer into each other's shells, trying to find the eyes, to ascertain the sex of their new acquaintance. Red is boy. Brown is girl.
It's too late for mating, but it doesn't hurt to ask for her number.
And then my friend Dave McShaffrey, Marietta College biology professor, tells me,

"Julie-never too late for mating! The females can store sperm for years. My turtles mate well into the fall. When you don't bump into others of your kind too often it makes sense to take full advantage of the opportunity."

Well!! We leave them in peace, and though I'd love to photograph their interaction, my desire to let their behavior unfold naturally overrides.

I love the old-fashioned Hydrangea arborescens at the farm. I hadn't known it was there, or had forgotten, more correctly. Maybe I hadn't caught it in bloom.

It's just so right with the torn shade and the weathered siding.

Just below, several ebony spleenworts, most elegant of fernlets, sprout from the foundation. I've made a habit of watering them with what's left in the well bucket when Chet and I have had our drinks.

He does so appreciate his well water, and so do I. It's lovely to have a destination with a cool drink.

It hasn't yet gotten hot enough for me to salt my various routes with plastic jars full of water, but it's getting there.

We leave by the same road, and I resolve to check the sex of the golden turtle, if it's still there.

The Dark Knight is nowhere to be found, and this one is motivating out along a hayfield edge.

 Your eyes, madam, are brown.

 I'm thrilled to have found two box turtles interacting. It's something I've seen maybe four times in my life in the wild. Twice I've found copulating pairs. The other two times, just nosing around like these.
We head home.

Though you can't see him here, the middle Grace (the sugar maple) has an indigo bunting at the tippy top of her thinning hairdo, and he's singing for all he's worth.

We stop to shoot the bathtub that once served as a trough.

It has become a lovely self-contained marsh.  Every time I passed this tub I used to put a stick inside it to serve as a ladder for any unfortunate creature who fell into it, but someone kept removing my sticks. I'm glad to see this marsh. A small creature could survive until I could get to it, now that there's vegetation in there to hold it out of the water.

On the corner of our road, I check one of my bluebird boxes. I see a very fresh dropping that looks like it came from the female as she exited the box. I say this because it's quite large, as it would be had she been holding it for several hours as she incubates her eggs.  Ah. She's eating black raspberries, which are just coming in now.

I'm bemused to find her eggs all in a row, an arrangement I don't see. Usually they're clustered in the middle of the cup.

I smile as I realize that she likely kicked one egg out of formation as she exited the box in a hurry, probably as she heard me approach. The eggs are toasty warm, further bolstering that theory. I like having the time and mental space to come up with such theories. 

We arrive home to a warm greeting from the kids, who've managed to struggle out of bed.

Their phones lie on the table side by side. Liam touches the screens to show me what they've done. Ha!!


OMG - I love the phone thing the kids did!! Also the rest of the story, of course, but that was a charming surprise ending.

Handsome turtle couple, corny kids.

Posted by Gail Spratley July 6, 2014 at 9:28 AM
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