Column: Snap! There goes another turtleWORTHINGTON — According to Chinese astrology, this is the year of the dragon. However, turtles come to mind more than dragons.
By: Nancy Zuehlke, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — According to Chinese astrology, this is the year of the dragon. However, turtles come to mind more than dragons.
I know turtles are not part of Chinese astrology. Several pictures of turtles in the Daily Globe caught my eye. I was thinking I have never seen a snapping turtle in Worthington. So goes the day!
Let me tell you. This past June, as I went for an evening walk down the alley and was about to cut behind the school administration building, my senses suddenly came alive.
I could not recall seeing a big, black-colored rock in the grass before. A rock too big to mow around — and now the rock was moving. What is that? Oh my, it must be 15 to 20 inches wide.
It was a huge snapping turtle. And I frightened it and it frightened me! It must have crawled up here from the ditch.
The county ditch lies between that lot and the athletic field. This ditch is jam-packed with vegetation and mud, etc, etc. (Note! This ditch should be dredged clean before we get 10 inches of rain. It is an important runoff in a flood, and right now it is overgrown. It could happen, you know, like 1969.)
Wow! I remember our youngest two kids loved to play by the ditch even when they were forbidden to do so. Kids love water and mud, you know. I guess I never thought about snapping turtles at that time.
All my New London, Minn., memories came flooding back. It was about 1953 when we rented a cute yellow bungalow on the bank of the Crow River. We had a beautiful vegetable garden in the backyard with a white picket fence all around. I felt very safe letting our two little girls going out to play.
Then one day, as I was picking leaf lettuce in our garden by the river, I saw something move. A huge snapping turtle was munching lettuce. I screamed, as it frightened me and I frightened it. Very quickly I got the girls into the house. I was screaming, “Stay here!”
My neighbor Mrs. Eric Anderson was outside, so I called her to look. She came, she looked and she ordered me to find a gunnysack. We’ll take it down town and sell it. We will get 10 cents a pound. I was to hold the gunnysack while she picked up the snapper by the tail.
I was shaking and tried to hold the sack open wide. There is no way to hold the sack open wide while shaking like a hip-hopper. All this while the turtle was gnashing its big jaws left and right.
We got it downtown and Mrs. Anderson got a dollar and a half.
The rest of that summer, Cal’s morning job was to search the backyard for any turtles. A large scoop shovel worked well to toss them back into the Crow River.
Snapping turtles are way out of my league. My childhood memories of turtles were stopping the car so my dad could pick up mud turtles to take home to play with, or getting a tiny 1½-inch turtle to put in a glass bowl. They are so cute, with their striped legs and colorful tummies.
I should learn more about the year of the dragon. Does it bring good luck? All I know is that I was once was lucky at the casino on a penny machine that was pictured with dragons!
Nancy Zuehlke is a Worthington resident.