Sunday, July 7, 2024

Sunday visitor

Mikey the mapping turtle
 Today we had a visitor. We don't normally get visitors on Sunday, so it was a welcomed surprise. 

Looking out the window, toward the backyard, we saw something moving. My husband went out to see what it was and quickly came back in to let me know it was a turtle. 

We've had several tortoise sightings since we moved in our new house. There's a lake nearby and the turtles love to hang out there, so we weren't surprised to find this visitor in our yard. 

Today's visitor was a mapping turtle. They're different from Gopher Tortoise, native to this area. 

I asked hubby to pick him up and bring him in the house so I could inspect him. We always try to make sure any animals that cross our path are okay and well cared for as long as we have them. 

He brought the turtle in and immediately, I noticed a big chunk missing from his carapace. It looked like he'd been hit by a lawnmower or a car at some point and had narrowly escaped. 

We put him in a box and gave him a big handful of salad greens and water. He seemed thankful to be out of the heat for a while. When he started to get antsy, we knew it was time to let him go. We didn't want to stress him out.

Before releasing him, I decided to put an identifier on him so we'd know if he came to visit again. I took some red paint and painted a heart on the back of his shell. Then I took a permanent marker and wrote the name "Mikey." I figured it might help keep him safe if anyone else came across him. They'd probably think Mikey was a pet and hopefully leave him alone. 

We don't ever like to "mess" with nature, but sometimes, it's necessary to protect them. Just like ornithologists capture and tag birds for tracking and information to help understand their habits, our markings were similar for Mikey. 

Since we've lived here, we haven't seen as much wildlife as at our old home. We've only seen a band of deer once, at our old place, we'd see them daily. We have enjoyed several nesting birds - one in a large fern on my back patio and the other just under the eave of our front porch. 

It's a joy to participate in the beauty of nature. God blesses us with His creation and His unique creatures. Every time we get a glimpse of some insect or animal  He's made, we can't help but look intently with wonder. There are so many details and so many unique qualities to each of His wildlife family. 

Yesterday, we decided to travel to several little free libraries in neighboring cities. I had a stack of my books about my cancer journey I wanted to donate. While we traveled, we saw many farm animals and flying birds overhead. We always enjoy being in rural areas and being able to experience the simple beauty of farm-life.  

Released and looking for the way home
At the very last stop, I got out to place a stack of my books in the library box. As I was closing the door, a beautiful swallowtail flew in front of me and then encircled me as I walked back to the car. It was as if God was whispering, "Did you see Me today?" "Did you see Me in My creations?" 

Closing the car door, I smiled and breathed a little prayer toward heaven. "Yes, God, I saw You today! I saw you in the white, puffy clouds. I saw you in the brilliant blue sky. I saw you in the carpets of green grass, in the cows quietly chewing their cud, in the streams we crossed over, and most certainly in that lovely butterfly you sent my way. 

I pray God will watch over Mikey and protect him. Poor thing with a chunk out of his shell! I know Mikey didn't feel it when I painted the heart and wrote the name on his shell, but as I did it, I hoped he didn't mind too much. 

I feel closest to God when I'm out in nature. Perhaps it's because of all the peace and quietude I feel there. Being in nature allows me to focus solely on Him without distractions the world often throws my way. 

Please be good stewards and guardians of God's creation and creatures. Many people take both of these for granted. If we don't take good care of them, we may not have them to enjoy in the years to come. I don't know about you, but I need them. They bring me happiness and joy.

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