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Even Turtles Can Change The World

Shell Shocked!

A few weeks ago, over 100 Diamondback Terrapins help up air traffic at one of the largest airports in the world, JFK(and affected air traffic around the world). News agencies across the globe heard about this.  For some 30 minutes, Flight Controllers diverted all air traffic on runway 4.

The turtles were making their slow but determined way to Jamaica Bay Wildlife refuge. Airport workers scooped up some of the turtles up and brought them by pickup truck to the shores of their breeding ground to try and speed things up.  After about a half hour, air traffic around the world got back to normal. 

Have you ever helped a turtle cross a road? Or a parking lot? 

Once my wife and I were going to the movies at Seaford Theatre and as we headed past Tackapausha on Merrick Rd. we spied a large pile of rags 'walking' toward traffic. "That's weird", we thought. "That pile of clothes is moving into traffic." So I pulled over only to find a large, ill-tempered snapping turtle. This thing looked like it could take a finger off! But still, we didn't want it to get squashed in the road.

Luckily, some thoughtful person had taken a Pathmark shopping cart and run it into the shallow part of the pond. So I waded in while the boss kept the turtle out of the road. (how she did that I still don't know. Maybe the snapper was looking for its breeding ground and the boss spoke the ancient mom tongue understood by all of Gods creation) Anyway, I grabbed the shopping cart and rolled it (dragged it really) over to Merrick Rd. Then carefully lifted the hissing snapping monster into the cart.

She never really snapped at me. I think she was too freaked out at that point or from one mom to another, the boss calmed her down. Whichever..it all worked out and she disappeared into the murky deep of Tackapausha.

One other time. The boss was taking the kids on a walk and razor scooter ride around Tackapausha (Yes, Tackapausha again!) and they came across a 'dead' turtle covered in maggots. She called me on her cell and of course, I had to see this. I flipped the poor guy over with a stick. What...you think I'm touching maggots? And his poor little head retracted.

I thought to myself...wow...he's alive? So I knocked some maggots off and poured some of my Poland Spring over him. Tackapausha was closed at the time, so I ran home and got a bucket while the boss and the kids watched over him. We got him home and determined he was an Eastern Box Turtle. He looked as if a raccoon got to him or maybe a dog. His under-shell was broken and he was bleeding.

So we got some warm water and mixed in a little hydrogen peroxide and bathed him a few times a day. He didn't eat for about a week and we thought he'd never make it. But eventually he seemed to wake up and popped his head out once in a while. The cut on his belly didn't look that bad anymore either. After a few more day he even chomped on a dandelion and then we introduced strawberries and bananas. He went nuts for the fruit. So...long story short we kept him that entire summer until we were sure he was fine.

"Sandy", my youngest had named him. "But he's a him!" my sons protested. "Sandy!" the 3 year old insisted. My sons learned a valuable lesson that day: Never argue with their little sister. It's as true a lesson today as it was 4 years ago when Sandy came into our lives. Anyway, one day in early September that year, we brought Sandy back into the woods he had been inhabiting for (probably) decades. The whole family came to see him off. Me, the boss and our five little people. (not so little anymore). As I picked Sandy up out of the box and set him down, I waited for him to look back and give me one of those turtle smiles. You know the one. But it never happened. He just did what turtles do...plodded his way under the bushes, making plans to change the world.. 

So as you make your way through this life, think about taking your time like a turtle. You can still change the world...just do it slowly like the JFK turtles.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Beth July 15, 2011 at 01:54 AM
Wow! I always love your stories!
Andrew J. Hyatt July 15, 2011 at 02:20 PM
Thanks Beth. It was fun reminiscing about that crazy-big Snapping Turtle and Sandy. I hope they're both doing wonderfully!

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