They always surprise me.  On our morning walk, my dog Jake and I make the rounds of the wildflowers and garden plants while I gauge the weather for my morning report to Fritz.  In this heat spell, the asparagus grows almost while you watch, so that was my first stop.  In the middle of the patch, there she was, snuggled down into the soft soil looking like a large overturned tin platter.  Still covered with lake mud and green algae, mama snapping turtle looks mean and ugly. She extends her head out of the huge shell, and I see that even her eyes are full of dirt but know full well that she could see well enough to snap off a finger it I get too close.  
     Even though she struggles to deliver, I am curious but have little sympathy--still reeling from the loss of the swan babies that I blame on her kind.  I run for the camera but my husband finds the shovel.  He heaves her 30-40 pounds into the field while I’m suddenly concerned more for her well being than his precious plants.  “She’s old,” I cry.  “Don’t hurt her!”  He knows about life span of snappers (up to 100 years) but also knows her shell will save her as it has for so long. 
      Every year a snapper or two surprises me; often I only see the indentation she makes or the remains of some of the dozens of newly laid eggs that were a tasty snack for a raccoon or skunk.  Several times in the fall I’ve come across broken shells next to a hole in the ground marking the spot of those who survived predators and hatched from months of incubation.  Someday I’m hoping to see a row of little ones making their way out of the hole, shaking off broken shells and instinctively heading back to the place from which they came, Flat Iron Lake.