Raymond and I saw a lot of turtles on the highways and byways of Hastings County this past weekend. I don’t know if turtles have a “season,” but if they do, this must be it. Wherever we drove, sleepy back roads and busy highways, we had to be careful lest there be a turtle crossing – or trying to, at least. Imagine yourself a little turtle and how hard it would be to safely cross a busy highway!
It’s amazing how determined the turtles seem to be to cross that highway. One wonders why they don’t just stay safely in the woodland or marshland off to either side, where the risk of getting struck by a fast-moving car or truck is nonexistent. Is it the sun-warmed pavement that attracts them, I wonder? Or just a sense of adventure? I’m all for a sense of adventure (just look how much fun Bilbo Baggins had when he left the safety of home), but not when it means risking life and limb with every passing second – and it takes a turtle many, many seconds to cross a highway.
It seems a lot of drivers in the Queensborough area are, like us, pretty aware of the possibility of encountering a turtle. One day last summer we were zipping along Highway 7 and met a car with its headlights flashing furiously at us. Of course we assumed it was because there was a police speed trap, but no: the driver was warning us of a huge and prehistoric-looking turtle crossing the highway just around the bend. I’m so glad we got the warning! The headlight-flashing thing is a good practice for us all to follow when we see a turtle, big or small. Turtles are happy and useful creatures, and they deserve a good life on whichever side of the road they choose to live it.
Anyway, Raymond seems to have developed a special soft spot for turtles, thanks I suppose to meeting so many of them – half a dozen at least, and not all happily, but I’ll get to that in a minute – this past weekend. When we suddenly encountered the first one, as we were enjoying a drive along scenic Hunt Club Road from Highway 7 north to Queensborough, he took it upon himself (well, actually he tried to get me to do it, since I was out there on the road taking a photo of the turtle, but I was chicken) to help our slow-moving friend across. Which was just as well, since there was a bit of a hill just ahead, and it would have been so easy for a car to come zooming over it and hit the turtle before the driver could have even realized it was there. So one turtle saved – as long as it didn’t decide to turn around and go back once we’d driven on.
A couple of days and several turtles later, we were driving south from a great trip to Ormsby (I’ll tell you about that in a separate post soon) on Highway 62, when up ahead we spotted what looked like a turtle off on the shoulder of the road. As we got closer we realized the awful truth: it had been hit. “It didn’t make it,” Raymond said sadly. And then, clearly anguished: “It was still alive. I saw it move.” We were in heavy, fast-moving traffic; stopping and going back wasn’t really an option, and we wouldn’t have known what to do if we had. Could we have helped the turtle?
I remembered that I had read about a place somewhere in central Ontario that helps injured turtles, and made a mental note to look it up for future reference. We couldn’t help that poor, poor creature, but perhaps in future we can help another. Meanwhile, I was so touched by how moved my dear husband was about the turtle. I always knew Raymond was the kindest of kind souls, but that was the clincher.
Anyway, here are my final words to you all this evening, and I know Raymond will echo them heartily: if you are out driving in Hastings County, mind the turtles!