Chelydra Serpentina

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Manifesting out of mud into the grass beside the road where Trestle crosses Pumpkin Hill, somehow en route while staying still, the snapping turtle didn’t care when I approached it. From the car “Don’t touch it!” my husband hissed. Once I was close, I didn’t insist. The snaky neck, the beak, the paws armed with talons, not just claws – it didn’t look me in the face but gradually revolved in place, facing first toward the grass, and then back toward Pumpkin Hill Road again. Defiant or oblivious, it didn’t give a damn for us. Inscrutable, determined, slow, it knew where it didn’t want to go. It wouldn’t be accurate to say the snapping turtle walked away. Crawled? Waddled? Neither verb is right. But somehow it was out of sight by the time we passed that way again. It had vanished, left no sign (no smear of plastron, no crushed shell), gone back to the pond where all was well, a haven of water, mud, and weed which must have met its every need.