A Hazzards Corners state of mind

Helping the Hazzards turtle

My new Queensborough friends Sherry (left) and Gail work together to get a big old snapping turtle safely across Queensborough Road at Hazzards Corners.

The tiny corner of the world known as Hazzards Corners – it’s so small you can’t even call it a hamlet – has loomed large in my Queensborough life these past few days. In a good way! I thought I’d tell you about that in this week’s instalment of Meanwhile, at the Manse. Nothing earth-shaking; just some delightful little local incidents that all took place there.

Okay, so: Hazzards Corners Event #1. This past Thursday morning, as I was driving to work, I spotted a turtle on the south side of Queensborough Road just before it intersects with Cooper Road – that would be “downtown” Hazzards Corners, right across the road from historic Hazzards Church and its cemetery. As regular readers know, Raymond and I (along with lots of other people) are doing our best to help the local turtles survive their annual spring/summer ritual of crossing the warmed-by-the-sun roads before and after laying their eggs. (My most recent post touching on that topic was last week’s, which is here.)

The turtle I saw Thursday was big snapper of a certain age. How do I know? The moss on her back! It takes time to grow moss on your back. Here she is, before she started across the road. What a beauty!

Hazzards turtle

And that was the thing: when I spotted her, she hadn’t started to cross the road, although she was clearly poised and ready, having just laid her eggs on the south side:

Where the turtle laid her eggs

The spot where Mrs. Mossy Turtle had just laid her eggs on the south side of Queensborough Road at Hazzards Corners.

I pulled over because I figured if she was about to make the crossing, she’d appreciate someone keeping traffic from interfering with her progress. Or, much worse, hitting her and injuring or killing her. And I waited for her to start.

I didn’t wait long. Two things happened: one, the turtle started to cross; and two, another car pulled over. And almost immediately, another. And there were Sherry and Gail, two women from Queensborough whom I’d never met before but who both were a) deeply caring about turtles’ well-being and b) experienced in helping them. As the turtle began to unhelpfully head down the centre of the road rather than across it, we three turtle-helpers quickly conferred and decided we could make good use of the shovel I always carry in the trunk of my car for exactly this purpose. So the shovel came out, and Sherry and Gail compared notes on their experiences with using one to get a big snapper across the road. Gail was inclined to try to get the turtle on the shovel and carry it, while Sherry advocated using the shovel to block Mrs. Turtle’s sideways vision to try to keep her eyes and motion aimed for the opposite site of the road. As Mrs. Mossy slowly – very slowly – made her progress, we tried both approaches, and what ended up working was a bit of a combination of gentle pushes with the shovel and using it as the aforementioned peripheral sightline block.

Directing traffic while helping the turtle

Gail directs traffic with one hand and wields my shovel in the other, while Sherry tries out a technique recommended by one of the drivers who stopped to offer advice: holding out a stick that Mrs. Turtle might bite and hold on to, so that we could carry her across the road that way. (The stick didn’t work all that well, but maybe we need more practice.) But we got her across!

I was delighted to make the acquaintance of Sherry and Gail and to hear their turtle-helping stories; and I was also delighted by all the drivers who stopped and offered help and advice, or just supportively watched what we three were trying to do. You wouldn’t – or at least I couldn’t – believe how many vehicles pass through the intersection of Queensborough and Cooper roads at Hazzards Corners at 9 a.m.ish on a weekday morning! They all slowed down or stopped, and really it was quite the community gathering – all in aid of Mrs. Mossyback Turtle and her survival.

We got her across the road, and we all went on our way. And if that isn’t a good start to a workday, I don’t know what is.

Hazzards Corners Event #2: Two mornings after Mrs. Mossy Turtle’s laborious road crossing, I was back at Hazzards Corners as one of the people on a big, fancy Franklin Coach Lines bus that was taking a tour group organized by the Hastings County Historical Society though the very part of the world that I live in and love: central Hastings County. The historical society, an excellent outfit that does all kinds of good and interesting things, organizes a bus tour of some interesting area or other each year, and this year chose our neck of the woods. There were stops at Chisholm’s Mills, Thomasburg, Actinolite, Queensborough, Hazzards Corners, Madoc, Eldorado, Malone and Deloro. How could I not take part? I even invited my mum to join me, and it was very interesting indeed. (Despite the tour guide being pretty fuzzy on Queensborough history; I resisted the urge to correct him on several occasions, in the interest of being polite.)

Hazzards Church signThe tour’s stop at historic Hazzards Church was definitely a highlight, and I know that anyone who was on the bus would agree with me. Grant Ketcheson, one of the hard-working volunteers who has helped preserve that beautiful old former Methodist (and then United) church, gave a splendid and entertaining talk on the building’s history, complete with the wonderful news about a recently announced $30,000 grant from the Belleville-based Parrott Foundation to be used for replacement of the roof. The visitors asked lots of questions and were clearly quite taken with this simple old country church and its stories. Here they are, listening intently as Grant answers a question:

Historical society visit to Hazzards Church

And then finally, Hazzards Corners Event #3: A sight this morning that, readers, I need your help with. Once again I was heading west on Queenborough Road to work, and just as I approached Hazzards Corners I noticed the abundance of white blossoms on the trees on either side of the road, looking particularly beautiful against a sky that featured darkish clouds with spots of bright sunlight:

Blossoming trees at Hazzards

As usual, my photo doesn’t do justice to the beauty of the scene – I am the first to say I am a pretty hopeless photographer – but I hope you can tell that it was a lovely sight.

Now here’s my question: what are those white-blossomed trees? Readers, please enlighten me. And hey: if you feel you need to make a field trip to Hazzards Corners to do some first-hand research in the interest of coming up with the correct answer, I heartily urge you to do so. Admire historic Hazzards Church while you’re there, and poke around its beautiful old well-kept cemetery.

And hey, if you happen to spot a turtle trying to cross the road – please stop and help her. I am absolutely sure you’ll soon have reinforcements, and will make new friends. All in an excellent cause!

16 thoughts on “A Hazzards Corners state of mind

  1. Wild apple trees? Maybe the proof will be in the applesauce.

    Is “Corners” the minimal geographical ‘place’? In my experience, there’s one business (store, garage, or such) and a couple of houses on other corners of the intersection, as if nobody could agree on which corner property was to grow into a hamlet. Near our family farm, Coppin’s Corners hasn’t grown a bit, though the villages around it are expanding. But the four buildings still confront each other.

  2. Those are probably Black Locust trees in blossom. There have been some around Hazzards Church for many years. I remember looking at them through the window when I should have been listening to the sermon.

    • Thank you for this, Doris! I knew nothing whatever about Black Locust trees until you posted this comment, but having looked them up (here), I do now. Aside from the beauty of the blossoms, the bark on the trees is very distinctive, and now I am noticing that too as I drive by them each day. I am ever thankful to readers for enlightening me – and I am especially thankful to you for conjuring up the image of a little girl (you) seated on a hard pew at Hazzards Corners Church and, understandably, letting your mind and vision drift from the sermon to the beauty just outside the windows. I don’t think the Almighty would fault you for that!

  3. Yes, definitely, Katherine. Locust trees, with their intoxicating perfume. We had a clump of them in the dooryard of my childhood farm home. The smell of almost-the-end-of-school for the summer! Incidentally, my mother’s name was Doris Pierce.

    • Thank you for corroborating my friend Doris’s tree identification, Lindi! I will have to introduce you to Doris one of these times (if you two don’t already know each other). You have a lot in common besides the sound of your mum’s name: local (Hastings County/Prince Edward County) origins; a great interest in history, books and the other good things of life; and lively and wide-ranging intelligence. Plus niceness. I am blessed in my friends!

  4. We were totally thrilled to be able to host the group. It was so meaningful having you and your mother both there. I’m sure there were mixed emotions in your mother’s mind. Yes, our black locust trees are a Hazzard’s fixture.

    • Grant, you did a terrific job in talking about the history of the church, and I could tell that the people in the historical-society tour group were very taken with the church and with your stories. How encouraging that some of them asked about the summer service on Aug. 21 – and it’s good that you warned them to get there early!

  5. I have to say I love reading your posts about Queensborough! I grew up in Tweed and often wonder if we have ever met. You’ve inspired me to return to blogging. Since photography is my passion maybe someday I wonder up your way and enjoy the beauty of small town home.

    • Hello, dragonfly diaries, and thank you for the kind words! If our paths crossed the first time I lived in the Queensborough/Tweed area, it would have had to have been between 1964 and 1975, when I was growing up here. If you are a photographer and interested in rural landscapes you should definitely revisit your roots here; at this time of year especially, our area is just gloriously beautiful. Let me know if you plan to come!

      • Thanks Katherine. It is possible that our paths have crossed as I attended Tweed United church during those years. I’m thinking perhaps I’m a little younger than you perhaps. After I sent this message it dawned on me that I believe I do have roots in Queensboro and must travel there to explore. My grandfather was a Bosley and I do believe he had family from Queensboro. I will definitely be up that way this summer!
        I will let you know when I’m coming for sure.

      • Bosley is very much a Queensborough name, and in fact we live on Bosley Road in Queensborough! Looking forward to showing you our beautiful part of the world (and your heritage).

  6. I learned just this spring that snapping turtles can be picked up by their shells and airlifted to safety. I had thought that this was too risky — it is apparently not true that the snapper can come out of her shell and reach back as far as her tail to snap the well-meaning but unprepared helper. We have a favorite whom we get see about every 3 or 4 years cross the street back to the beaver pond on a sunny spring afternoon — she has some friends on the path.

    • Hello, Tom! Lovely to hear from you. This is interesting and useful information; I had totally been under the impression that a snapper could get at a helping human no matter where said human put his/her hands on its shell. I have to say that I for one am not yet prepared to put this thing to the test – in my turtle experience, those suckers lunge out quickly and sharply, and even if one of them couldn’t reach me when I was carrying it, I’m afraid the sudden snap would startle me into dropping the poor thing, out of sheer terror. I continue to prefer the shovel method. But if I ever find myself in a shovelless situation with a great big turtle who needs help – well, I guess I’ll screw up my courage and give it a try. Thank you!

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