Congratulations everyone! We’ve almost made it through January and the short month of February is just around the corner. Most Sundays I enjoy a leisurely read of the New York Times, but with Trump dominating almost every story and editorial, I found myself craving an antidote. To combat “trumpitis,” my daughter and I took advantage of a lull in the winter weather to take a walk in our local park. This is our way of escaping the malaise that permeates everyday life in the Trump era and restoring balance and wonder in our lives.
We were rewarded with unexpected activity in the park. The sheet of ice which covered most of the pond was nearly gone due to temperatures in the 50’s today. There were many varieties of ducks, the usual Canada geese, and our local swan couple taking advantage of the open water. The ring-necked ducks
were less timid than they were earlier in the winter, swimming closer to shore which made it easier for us to enjoy their beautiful features.
But where we had found peace and quiet just a day or two ago, there was now a frenzy of activity. My daughter noticed it first. “The geese are doing that crazy behavior they only do when they are trying to attract a mate,” she said. She was right. Several of the geese were flapping their wings madly and thrashing them in the water, then rolling themselves over in the pond.
Then we noticed a small group of geese swim by, one of them tailgating a female, while a second goose aggressively honked at another goose to keep him at a distance. The volume of honking was much louder and more persistent than usual.
Suddenly, the muskrat appeared, vigorously swimming toward the shore.
He was quite big, with a long flat tail, and he quickly swam into one of his hidden hideaways in the banks of the pond. Another sign of life that had been absent for a couple of months.
As we continued our walk, I posed the question: “Do you think the ‘monster turtle’ has emerged from his winter hibernation at the bottom of the pond?” “Probably not yet,” my daughter replied. “Well, it won’t be much longer, as he has to be around to eat the new baby swans and ducks,” I responded.
As we approached the part of the pond we’ve dubbed his “lair,” it took only a few minutes for my daughter to spot the top of his shell and his head barely visible in the murky pond water. Sure enough! He, too, had come back to join the chaos in the pond. We scanned the water for his buddy, who we surmise must be his “mate,” but she was nowhere to be found.
This snapping turtle is indeed a monster. He has spikes along his tail, enormous claws, and a head the size of a sumo wrestler. He appears to be about two feet long. He clearly bridges the gap between prehistoric life and pond life as we now know it. He is also reputed to be responsible for devouring the swan babies every spring. In past years, for example, four out of six baby swans have disappeared overnight. Last year none of them survived! Although I am fascinated by this creature, I find his killer instinct deplorable.
Clearly, these were early signs of spring we were witnessing. It was somehow comforting to be paying attention to the small details of burgeoning life in our pond, rather than the sordid details of our president’s daily antics. It was reassuring to witness signs of normal mating behavior amongst a flock of birds, rather than read yet another story about sexual abuse of the powerless by the powerful.
As always, our walk in nature put things in perspective and lifted our spirits. Predators change faces but not behaviors. The world will not end because of the erratic behavior of our current president. But life in the pond will continue to follow its seasonal cycles, and for that we can be grateful.