Sunday, as I was driving home from dropping the boys off at grandma's house for spring break, there on Ohio Route 7 was a black object with a familiar shape. It was in my lane in the area where my tires normally would have been, but I avoided it and turned around, wondering if it was a snapping turtle.
It looked like a large juvenile or a small adolescent, but I'm no herpetologist, so I can't say. It might have spent some time in the ditch next to the road. The ditch was full was water and, probably, amphibians. It wasn't moving when I saw it first or when I stopped. It just sat there like it didn't want to move. Or maybe it couldn't move for some reason.
I headed back up the road to find a place to turn around. As I waited to back out onto the road, several cars and pickups came speeding down the road. They were following one another too closely. I had a bad feeling.
Unfortunately, by bad feeling was right. I found the turtle on its back, dead.
A few years ago, this wouldn't have bothered me. Today it does. The fact that I had made eye contact with this little critter made it worse, I guess.
UPDATE: I put a link to this blog post on my Facebook page. Someone I used to work with sent me this message:
My first "dream job" was a herpetologist. I pursued that path until I was a senior in high school. I don't know how I got derailed.
I also get what you're saying about perspectives changing over time. On my first fishing expedition this year I caught a snapping turtle. I used to just cut the line and let them go away. This time, I was determined to try to get the hook out of its mouth. Thanks to a stick and some pliers I accomplished my goal and managed to keep all of my fingers. On the same day, I caught two mud puppies. One of them was the largest I'd ever seen.
So on my first trip, I caught one turtle, two mud puppies and zero fish. I rarely catch either. It could be a sign of a weird year to come.