Turtles and Territory

turtle in the earth pond


I saw the turtle again yesterday evening, floating serenely on the water’s surface. I think it’s a Painted Turtle because of the red markings.

I’ve read it’s a destructive creature. It’s certainly made a mess of the bulrushes at the water line. I’d thought it was the deer although they’ve never gone for the bulrushes before – but no, it’s the turtle. I hope it doesn’t go for the day lilies which are now coming out. The tubing has popped out of the pump for the frog fountain – that’s never happened before. Did the turtle think the tubing was a juicy root?

I assume it will eat the minnows. Will it eat the frogs too? I don’t see any of the big frogs in their usual places. And what about the salamanders? The book I read mentioned the unpleasantness of turtle waste. I’m not sure about swimming in the pond if a turtle lives in it. Will it make its home here or is it just passing through, like the wood ducks and Hooded Mergansers in spring? I love seeing new wildlife in the pond but somehow we all have to co-exist. We have to share the pond.

ebony jewelwing dragonfly

ebony jewelwing

One of our borders is a stream. Every few years it’s clear that the stream, a torrent after snow melt, a thin trickle at the end of summer, has shifted slightly. It undercuts one bank, which over time brings down a tree or two, overflows another. The survey markers down the centre have long since disappeared under gravel and rocks.

At one point, we found ourselves arguing with neighbours about a small stretch of land along the stream. Had the stream curved further off to the left at this point…how much further? If the stream had moved, who did this patch of land now belong to?

The neighbour brought out his measuring tape. At first I was angry (the swampy, mosquito-infested postage stamp of land in the middle of the woods was our side of the stream, so surely it was obvious it was ours!!), but then, as I looked at my boots sinking into the mud and rubbed at the bites on my neck and arm, I had the feeling that we were all being idiotic.



A couple of inches this way or that means nothing to the earth or water. The water will run in the direction it wishes and the earth will allow it or resist. It will be the way it is. Measuring won’t change anything. Neither the earth nor the stream care who claims them. That piece of land will be there (I hope, I hope), soft, mossy, dank-smelling, sun-dappled and buggy, long after we all have gone.

Today, from across the pond, I see the turtle sunning itself at the spot where we usually step into the water. I reach for my camera and zoom in. Ah no, it’s one of the big frogs. Guarding its territory.

Green Frog

Green Frog

Now I’m going to plant a lavender behind the rudbeckia. I’ve been told that deer hate the smell of lavender and will never reach over it to eat the flowers on the other side. We’ll see!


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