Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mrs. Snappy or Mrs. Hopper (which one are you?)

From Creature Control website
I delicately grabbed the mucky shell of the turtle. It must have come from the creek. I didn't want to see it get hit by oncoming traffic, but I was not prepared for its reaction to my sacrificial offering of help. It flailed it's legs, claws extended, and quickly turned its neck around toward my hand.  I screamed and dropped it.

The man heading toward his mailbox about 50 yards away from me now stood and watched me. I tried again. After all, I was trying to help the turtle. Surely it wouldn't harm me.  How long IS its neck I wondered as I prepared to try again.  All I wanted to do was carry it across the road and put it in the tall grass so it could arrive safely to wherever it was going. Snappy was obviously done swimming in the creek and headed toward the alfalfa field.

Same thing happened again.  I lifted.  It lurched.  I screamed and dropped it. "Do-nothing-neighbor-man" had to be getting a good laugh at me now.  I looked at him in distress.  "That turtle crosses the road every morning and night.  She has a nest up in the alfalfa field", is all he said.

Nice of you to offer to help me, I thought.  Do you stand and watch it come close to death every morning and evening?

Just then a big black pickup truck came barreling over the hill and around the curve. I suddenly burst into bionic woman mode and put my arm up in the air with a "STOP" kind of gesture. Don't you dare come near Mrs. Snappy.  I named her since I now knew she was a her.

He stopped and I felt proud.  I liked this kind of power.  He jumped out of his truck while "do-nothing-neighbor-man" continued to stand there at his mailbox.

Finally, someone is coming to help me.  I exhaled.

Wrong.  He was carrying a large camera and intended to capture this adventure. I suddenly realized that I was standing there drenched in sweat from running and jump roping. I panicked. Of all the moments to be photographed! Did I mention it was Saturday morning around 6:15?

I started giving the"do-nothing-neighbor-man" some credit.  I'll call him Mr. Red because he was wearing a red shirt.  At least he was up and out at his mailbox early enough to see Mrs. Snappy and know her habits, even if he wasn't offering to help me.

Mr. Pickup wasn't turning out to be much of a help because he was focused on taking pictures. It only took about 5 seconds and I realized he was interested in Mrs. Snappy and not me. After shooting a few pics, he called to Mr. Red: "Do you have a shovel?" "Well...I do up at my house" said Mr. Red.  "I'll have to go get it."  He turned around and marched up his long, steep driveway probably mumbling to himself.

While this exchange was happening, I went looking for a stick.  If I could just give Mrs. Snappy some encouragement, we could get her across safely.  I couldn't find one.  Meanwhile I was dragging my jump rope around with me.  Duh!!!  I can use my jump rope I said to myself.

I began to wrap the rope around Mrs. Snappy.  She lunged at it with her mouth.  I retreated.  Pickup man saw what I was thinking and said "is that a jump rope?"

(A-hem)....."Is that a CAMERA?".... I was starting to feel a bit snappy myself.

He took the rope and began to wrap it multiple times around the shell of Mrs. Snappy. She was NOT HAPPY! She bit the rope and hung on as he lifted her (well...more like dragged) her across the pavement.  I felt a big sense of relief, even though he was now flipping her upside down into the grass.  At least she was safe.  By now Mr. Red had arrived with his shovel.

I walked away from that experience pondering the story of the tortoise and the hare . On my way back, I looked to see how far Mrs. Snappy had progressed in the tall grass.  About 2 feet.  Not much. But she was determined and feisty.  The kind of tenacity it takes to finish a race.  Not win it, perhaps, but finish it none-the-less.

Mrs. Hopper (Peter cottontail's momma), on the other hand, is so unpredictable that I believe she is the one who created the Pennsylvania roads.  I think she hopped around setting the course and the paving companies followed her.  One minute you are going North and the next moment you are going South.

So often I feel like Mrs. Snappy.  One small step at a time.  Day after day.  I routinely try to keep working away at my dreams and ideas. My ideas are as frequent and unpredictable as the path of Mrs. Hopper, but I will only accomplish them as I take on the habits of Mrs. Snappy.

I once heard someone say that the musicians who usually end up succeeding are not the most talented. They simply hang in there the longest. That gives me a sense of hope.  I have so much to learn.  But if I stick with it, day after day, I will make progress.  I don't have to be big and flashy like Mrs. Hopper.  Just steady.  Committed.  Tenacious.

P.S.  As I was preparing to write this blog, I decided to do a little research on snapping turtles because when I told Tom (my husband) about my morning activity, he was alarmed and told me I could have had my finger permanently removed! I should NEVER do that, he said.

I guess he was right....this is an excerpt I found from a website about turtles AFTER I tried to help Mrs. Snappy.

"Under no circumstances should you attempt to pick up a snapping turtle; they have an extremely flexible neck capable of reaching around and biting the hands of the person holding them, even if they are being held by the shell. In fact, snappers can reach their heads all the way to their hind legs to bite. Their jaws are extraordinarily powerful and capable of completely severing a human finger. In addition to the danger posed by their bite, the claws of the snapping turtle are quite sharp and can lacerate the flesh of a person attempting to handle them. One reason put forward for why snappers are so belligerent is because, unlike other turtles, they are too big to hide inside their own shell. Their powerful bite, sharp claws and aggressive attitude compensate for this deficiency." Creature

Yikes. I was very fortunate to come home with all my fingers!!!

What are you working toward? Weight loss? Bachelor's Degree? Running a marathon? Starting a non-profit? A better marriage?

Take a lesson from Mrs. Snappy.  She might not be quick and flashy...but she arrives at her destination.  One step at a time.

Take a lesson from me. Always carry a jump rope.