Limping Across the Finish Line


     We finished school last week not with a bang but with a whimper. As soon as I woke up on our last day I knew I had a strep infection. (As usual, we ended up with more than our 180 required days, anyway.) Happily, when I couldn't carry on any longer, Kristen took over putting Paul through his paces. Later I heard Jonathan working with the crew as they rehearsed Act III of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Yay for older kids! The most exciting event of the day did not take place inside, though.

     Before breakfast Amanda had visited her tree house. She came running back inside to tell us that a large, algae-covered turtle was there. From her description we knew it had to be a snapper. Several children returned to cautiously investigate. It turned out that mama snapping turtle had chosen Amanda's tree house area to serve as a nursery for her clutch of eggs. At first Amanda was irate, but once she knew the babies are harmless she warmed to the idea of hosting their eggs.

     Throughout the next several hours the kids kept running outside to check on mama snapper's progress. She'd conveniently positioned herself with her backside facing the trail, making the exiting eggs easy to spot. Very cool! We've read that the eggs should hatch in a few months and the babies will head for water. We don't know where mama's home is, but when she was through she took off in a direction that makes us think she is going to a pond on our neighbor's farm. Apparently some snapping turtles can travel up to 10 km (6 miles) to lay their eggs, and they return to the same location year after year. Amanda's tree house is new, so it is possible the turtle has been there before and we never noticed, or she could be a first-time mother. Anyway, I was grateful for the unanticipated nature study on that day when my energy was fading fast. And now we're on to summer!  



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