There was a large pond in my home town called Winter’s Pond. I’ve written about it before in a story about ice skating. This pond was the center point or shall I say the heart of the town. It was centrally located and people would gather there to skate, fish, feed the ducks, walk and play. It was too muddy and oozy to swim in. Oddly boats were never seen on Winter’s Pond. I and my friends remedied that with our rafts.
It was fun paddling about it the large pond, but the cool stuff was back in the swampy area known as the slough. The slough was where all the islands and vegetation were. This is where all the pond mammals lived. The water was different back there. It rarely froze because of the currents. It was an area that couldn’t be accessed on foot. People never got to go back there which kept it wild and natural.
With a raft one could navigate some of the channels between the small marsh islands. As young curious explores we had to check out every nook.
We drifted silently around. At least we thought we were silent. Can kids ever be silent? We spotted an island where the turtles lived. There were probably fifteen turtles basking on this island and we committed ourselves to catching one. With room only for one raft to flank the island my friend went in for the capture, while I remained in the channel.
Suddenly he screamed and flailed his paddle into the water to escape as quickly as possible from the island. “It’s a turtle grave yard!” he shouted. They are all dead.
I couldn’t see why anyone would be afraid of dead turtles, nor could I see why there were so many dead turtles on the island. I went in to examine and sure enough the island was full of empty turtle shells. It was really pretty cool. I suspected this was where a muskrat or a raccoon would have a turtle meal every so often. I retrieved one of the shells as an item of curiosity.
All the shells were from snapping turtles. If you have never seen one of these turtles in action, just hope your first experience doesn’t involve one of your fingers.
It was two snapping turtles that convinced us that we should no longer float our rafts on that pond again. One day we were on a hill above the back part of the pond and we saw two snapping turtles either fighting or attempting to mate in the pond. These turtles were larger than door mats; probably three feet across. We understood that further activity in that pond could place us directly in the food chain.