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The Voice Of The Turtle

Welcome to My Green Vermont - A Blog by Eulalia Benejam Cobb.
By Eulalia Benejam Cobb

Was sitting outside in the gloaming, reading while Bisou and Wolfie pursued their avocations:  Bisou kissing frogs and Wolfie hunting the painted turtles that at this time of year climb up the hill from the swamp and cross our backyard on the way to who knows where.

I looked up and saw Wolfie peering at and circling something in the grass several yards from where I sat.  He circled closer and I heard a loud bird-like squawk.  I went over and saw a foot-long snapping turtle.  Unlike the painted turtles, who hide inside their shell and hope for the best, this one had its scaly tail and all four legs out, and its thick wrinkly head was following every movement Wolfie made.  Before long, Bisou came over to investigate as well.  This time, for a change, I was more concerned for the dogs than for the turtle, so I sent them both inside.

Now I am wondering about that squawk.  The most logical interpretation is that the turtle snapped at Wolfie and he squawked.  But I\’ve never heard him–or any dog–make a sound like that before.  And I keep remembering that strange verse from the Song of Songs:

\”For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, 

And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.\”

I always thought that Solomon (or whoever) must have meant the turtledove.  But what if the lover really did hear the voice of a female turtle in spring, coming out of the swamp and migrating to God-knows-where to lay her eggs?

Later my spouse and I went out with a snow shovel to look for the turtle.  We intended to put her in it and transport her to the safety of the front field.  But she was gone without a trace.

6 Responses

  1. i love those giant snappers! i see them every spring down at the lake, laying their eggs in the dirt nearby. but i have never, ever heard them utter a peep. i don't even know if they can make a noise. that's an interesting question.

  2. While I was closely watching Wolfie and the turtle interact, I believe at one point Wolfie nipped the turtle's rear end and the turtle let out a sound–a squeal or croak or something (can't remember exactly, it happened so fast). But I am sure of who made the sound.

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