Friday, April 20, 2012

True Sign of Spring

There was no true winter season in Kansas this year and "spring" arrived so early that most plants and animals are out of rhythm.  The redbuds bloomed first, as always, but their leaves came on so quickly that there was little time to enjoy their cheery color in the landscape.  The untouched prairie, (in the very few places that have not been mined for limestone, disturbing earth and root systems in place for millions of years - or drenched in herbicide), is full of unusual blooming plants this year.  True prairie is made up of grasses and a variety of flowering plants that bloom at different times throughout the growing season.  What blooms depends on such a variety of factors that every spring the hills are clothed in different colors from the year before.  The wildflowers are always a surprise and a delight.

There are some things that remain constant despite the strange weather patterns.  I always see snakes crossing the road a few days before First Turtle Day.  Without fail, there is the inevitable spring day when I must stop on the road to move a turtle safely across. Their small round shapes are easy to see far ahead.  Long before I arrive, they are pulled into their shells for safety so it is easy to pick them up and carefully move them across the road.  I move them in the exact direction they were traveling.  I suspect that land turtles may have a homing instinct like the great sea turtles and I do not want to take them too far off their path.  I feel such a great compassion for these slow, gentle creatures who have no defense whatsoever against human beings.  Throughout the spring months there will be dead turtles on Interstate 70.  In fact, wherever human beings can drive their vehicles at high rates of speed, there will be dead turtles, their bodies linger for days on the shoulders of the roads.  There is no excuse for a dead turtle on a country road. 

Ornate Box Turtle - photo by Anda Arms

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