Upon emerging a snapping turtle drags up deep time and teachings that reveal to us our oldest nature, an identity and way of being that exceeds our form and vision. Quietly approach to read the duckweed and muck and the graphics of scutes on her back, lines and colors and scales on her skin to receive a message of ancient wisdom. Find yourself in her eyes.
Learn turtle. Become a pupil of pond.
Chelydra serpentina is often feared, loathed and misunderstood — blamed for eating game fish and ducklings and sold for soup. They are in truth quite docile (dangerous only when perturbed or balanced on a paddle) and vital to healthy aquatic habitats. They are messengers of the deep wisdom of how to live on this planet. Except for the occasional photo-op and ecological research, we approach with silence, reverence and awe — leaving them undisturbed or gently returning them to their homes. Please do not harm or eat them!
Photos: Hatchling snapping turtle (Saunders County, Nebraska) by Joseph Phillips; small, young adult snapping turtle by Kristin Zahra (Fremont County, Iowa). Below: poets listening to turtle-songs and reading the Chelonian teachings of time (with Jack steering the canoe).