Be A Turtle Hero

Yesterday morning was warm but beautiful so I took advantage of the conditions to walk at the lake. I snapped this phone picture just before crossing the bridge that connects the island to the rest of the park.

To my horror, I spotted a turtle crossing the road as an SUV sped his way. The speed limit is 35 miles per hour but that vehicle was driving much faster and I knew I couldn’t safely save the little guy.

As the SUV barreled down on him, I watched with both horror and intrigue as he pivoted so the long part of his shell would be parallel with the yellow line and he took up as little space as possible between the car’s tires.

It was incredible.

The car passed, he survived and I scurried out into the road to help him to the gravel causeway. I carefully set him down and stepped away about ten feet to see what would happen next. He seemed to be headed my way on the road which tells me he was traveling from the stream across the road to the much larger lake where I was walking. If he turned to go back onto the road like he was going to that stream, I would have helped with that too.

Luckily, there was no need to worry. He stuck his head out and appeared to sniff the air before scurrying down the bank and into the water. He moved shockingly fast as he scampered down the shore and swam away.

I live in hill country. It isn’t uncommon to see a turtle in the road but it can be challenging to find a safe place to pull over and help them cross.

Cars and poachers are probably the greatest threats to turtles in Ohio. Being smashed by a car is a painful, slow death so please do everything in your power to avoid hitting one.

If you see a turtle in the road, feel free to help if you can. First, make sure you can safely pull over. Also remember that Snapping turtles will bite and hold on but most other turtles are safe to help – just hold onto both sides between their front and back legs. Never handle a turtle by the tail.

Finally, be sure to move them in the direction they are traveling. Turtles are purposeful and are on the move because they need to be. If you move them to a place they do not wish to be, you can be making their lives drastically more difficult.

This story from the Sierra Club is a few years old but contains great information to help you. There’s also a video that demonstrates multiple ways to help a snapping turtle.

Help a turtle, save a life. Be a turtle hero!

Kinnikinnick Fen

Most people seem to use their lunch break to eat but I am not most people. If opportunity presents itself, I prefer to spend my free time doing something interesting.

Work took me to Ashville, Ohio yesterday. On the way back, I was passing the turn to Kinnikinnick Fen, a wetland owned by the Ross County Parks District. I was in dress pants but had some walking shoes in the car so I swung in for a quick look around. The trail here is flat and wide, perfect for a quiet conversation with a friend or for walking solo on a workday afternoon.

It’s shaded in some wooded places and exposed in others where the trail winds through open meadow.

It’s vividly green here.

As a southern Ohio native, I often take for granted my lush surroundings while my Wyoming friend practically cries at the sight of all our grass and trees. Poor rainfall in her high plains region creates tough growing conditions.

Consequently, I sometimes force myself to stop and appreciate how beautiful everything is. The variation in greens never fails to surprise me.

This is officially one of my favorite trees.

This shaded spot was cooler and the bird chatter was spectacular yesterday. Somewhere nearby I made friends with a dragonfly that accompanied me for part of the way.

This color really pops in that sea of green.

And the water looked so inviting I badly wanted to go wading. Wouldn’t that have been a hoot? Me kicking off my shoes and rolling up my dress pants to cool off?

I did have to resume my workday as a serious grown up in a matter of minutes so I refrained. Adulthood is when you have to be your own buzzkill.

Of course, there was this as well – a reminder to be happy. I can’t help but wonder if whoever left that behind has ever had to resist the urge to dip their toes in water on a hot summer afternoon. For their sake, I hope not.

Finally, I saw lots of interesting things on the ground including this leaf, colorful and in the shape of a heart.

When you go out for a walk – whether it is a hike through nature or a stroll around the block, be sure to look around. Study the ground and the sky in search of wonder. It is there if you open your eyes and your heart to seeing it.

I wrote about my first visit to this place back in May. Have a read if you like.

Buck Moon Rising

We saw another supermoon moon last night. The Old Farmers Almanac says that it is called a buck moon because the antlers of male deer, known as bucks, are in full growth mode right now.

It wasn’t as large as some of the supermoons we have seen in recent years but it was pretty nonetheless.

This is a quick iPhone picture to illustrate how the tree turns dramatic and lacey in the moonlight. It always fascinates me to see how lighting can alter subject matter, transforming scenes into something unrecognizable.

If you missed the moon last night, never fear! You’ll have another chance tonight through Friday morning!

Self Care At Its Finest

Monday, 9:06 p.m.

My workday is complete, dinner dishes are washed and I’m lounging in a hammock on the screened porch. My parents gave me this hammock, a long ago Fathers Day gift that my dad never used.

It was in their way but it now holds a prominent position on my back porch. I just set it up over the Independence Day weekend and it has quickly become my new favorite hangout. From here, I can see trees and a slice of sky. From here, the birds and crickets, katydids and frogs are my only companions during many hours of the day.

After work tonight, I braved the heat to relax and read a magazine until I drifted off to sleep. It was hot but something about this hammock relaxes me and alleviates muscle pain. A short nap was exactly what I needed on this very long Monday.

That break was necessary and nice but not nearly as pleasant as this midsummer evening.

The air has cooled and the humidity has dissipated, almost like magic. A light breeze causes the treetops to sway and produces a gentle sound amongst the leaves. The shorts and tank top that were appropriate just minutes ago suddenly seem inadequate.

At 9:15 pm on July 11, it’s still light out but not light enough to continue reading my book. I do have white twinkle lights hung along the ceiling but getting up to turn them on would ruin the mood. Besides, the lightning bugs are just gearing up for their evening show and I hate to detract from their efforts.

I sit now in near darkness, except of course, for the light of my phone. An opossum just silently scurried past the porch. He paid me no mind but I wished him well. They eat ticks, small rodents and even prey on snakes. They are so ugly they’re cute and I welcome this night shift worker into my yard to help maintain my peaceful little habitat.

The birds are mostly quiet now, replaced by the gentle hum of locusts and occasional call of a distant Great Horned Owl. In the darkness, I can better appreciate the aromas of pine and soil and some kind of decaying wood.

Yes. This is my happy place and I am grateful for it.

As long as I’m expressing gratitude, I am grateful that these simple pleasures are even more luxurious to me than a day at the spa. This, my friends, is self care at its finest.

Fresh Eyes At Cedar Falls

Last night, I revisited a trail I’ve hiked countless times. While it’s a heavily populated tourist area here in the Hocking Hills, most of the visitors were gone by the time I arrived after work. It was blissfully quiet.

I did encounter a woman who stopped for a moment to gush about the magnificence of the area. She had studied at nearby Ohio University but hadn’t been back since graduation fifteen years ago. I envied her fresh perspective and told her so. Everything was new and beautiful for her while it’s just another walk in the woods for me some days.

This particular trail is one of my favorites because there are areas where the dirt path turns to boulders that you must scurry over or through.

This trail parallels a beautiful stream.

A chipmunk stopped to say hi. This photo is not sharp but it was the best I could do with my unreliable phone.

This is a favorite spot on the trail. It’s a little steep for a short chick but I make do.

The views really are magnificent.

There’s a waterfall too.

I’m grateful to have these park trails so close to home and should probably try harder to appreciate them. But isn’t that human nature? We often don’t appreciate what we have and too often take for granted the things we value most.

I’ll try to do better.

Buzzard’s Roost Nature Preserve

Buzzard’s Roost Nature Preserve did not disappoint. I have been meaning to go there for a long time and finally made it out yesterday morning.

They have about five miles of trails through 1,200 mostly wooded acres. I chose the South Point Lookout Trail which is a two mile loop from the parking lot. But when I finished, I turned around and walked it in reverse.

It was beautiful both ways.

This is a Ross County Parks District property. Just a hop, skip and a jump from Chillicothe’s Western Avenue, it’s an oasis close to the city.

This trail is wide in most places and it’s one of the best maintained trails I’ve been on in southern Ohio. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at trail conditions after the stormy weather we’ve had lately.

I found many new favorite trees including this one.

And this one.

Trees reflected in water are one of life’s gifts.

This trail meanders through woods, past cliffs, and along rocks over streams. The soundtrack of the forest features dripping water, tree frogs and an orchestra of birds.

As I stood with my face turned toward the sun, I closed my eyes and felt the breeze ruffle my hair. I breathed deeply the aroma of pine needles while listening to songbirds all around. It was the ultimate surround sound.

Everything about this place is perfection.

If you go, be prepared for an extremely sharp turn onto the narrow road called Red Bird Lane. Isn’t that a charming name for a road to the forest? Maybe I’ll try another trail next time.

Want to know more? Click here to visit the Ross County Park District’s website. Here you’ll find events, trail maps and directions.