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The Cows, the Mushrooms, the Turtle

Often in the mornings I drive our younger son to work. Or rather he drives me; he’s 14, and learning the row the gears in the little stick shift, and we practice on the lesser-traveled gravel roads. I make him stop in the middle of an incline, then start again, and I chide him for riding the clutch. But the truth is, he’s a good driver, probably better than I was at 14. Certainly more responsible.

The writing I don’t do here is stuck in my head, like the image of a herd of cows the other morning, early, just after dawn, this time me driving through the verdant land, the lushness almost overwhelming to the senses, past the grazing cows, and two of them off to the side, one licking the others’ neck, the lickee tilting her head just so, all the better to have her itches properly scratched. And wondering how they communicate this need, or if it’s just happenstance.

Or gathering morels with my son, the same one I take driving, so many mushrooms we eat them for three days straight until suddenly they don’t seem so special anymore and we decide not to go back for more. Though there were so many. Never seen morels like that.

On the highway, I see a snapping turtle trying to cross. I stop and hurry it along, and an hour later, returning home, I see it again (or is it really? Could it be a different one? It looks like the same one to me), now heading in the opposite direction. This does not seem possible, but there it is, so I stop again, and hurry it along again, skootching the indignant beast with my boot until it’s out of harm’s way. Thinking all the while that one of these days the turtle’s going to get hit. I got shit to do. I can’t just hang out kicking it across the road.

Other things, too. In and out of my mind, they all seem noteworthy in the moment, but so many of them just fade away, and I return to the cows, the mushrooms, the turtle. And the sound, yet again, of rain on the roof.

11 thoughts on “The Cows, the Mushrooms, the Turtle”

  1. Lovely. Especially “The writing I don’t do here is stuck in my head, like the image of a herd of cows the other morning, early, just after dawn…”

    I’ve been known to screech to a halt, jump out of the car and risk my life nudging a snake or other animal crossing a road. They just going about they bidness and don’t deserve to die tryin’.

  2. We had a good morel year here too, right in our backyard in the suburbs under a huge old apple tree. Pretty exciting. And the snappers are on the move – I passed two this week on the side of the road. Since I didn’t know which way they were heading and I didn’t want them to start all over, I kept my toes in the car and sent speedy thoughts.

  3. Missed your writing, Ben. Summer busyness will kick in soon and we wont see you much here again.. I miss that Vermont rain on the roof sound. Morels are good everywhere this year. People in Arizona are hauling truckfulls looks like. Good and snowy winter and incredibly rainy spring (by Arizona standards) here too. Morel record year.
    We drove through Sierras in California and local lady there says: Don’t you ever swerve for anything on the road. You swerve here, you are off the mountain, you die. You are not in Kansas anymore. She was dead serious. Still, it was hard for me to not hit a break for every squirrel.

    1. Crazy how I’m jarred when I see roadkilled turtle or hawk more than opposum or deer. Hierarchy of roadkill? My hunch is carefuller! driving would prevent so much harm(across all species).

  4. Morels here too–all over the place. Apple blossoms like crazy. Compensation for our hellish winter? (Not enough, but appreciated. Thanks, Nature.)

  5. Always love to hear your musings. Thank you! Also, almost done with the new book. Read the part about pooping in the woods to my boys and they said, “You mean some people don’t know how to do that?” 🙂 Will write an Amazon review when I’m finished. Peace!

  6. When my husband was bumping along in his father’s truck getting some behind-the-wheel practice, his dad turned to him and said, “And if a squirrel jumps out in front of you, you just keep on goin’. F%#& the squirrel!” He did grow up to be a man who assists every ambling turtle he sees, though.

  7. The female snapping turtles seem to be on the move, looking for a place to lay their eggs. We went to Kansas City this past Thursday, June 6th, to watch the Red Sox play the Royals and saw several snapping turtles crossing roads. Normally I would stop and carry them across the road, but with I-29 closed due to Missouri River flooding, U.S. Highways 36, 50, and 75 were too thick with traffic to make turtle saving a safe venture.

  8. I never got out to look for morels because The Best Neighbors Ever kept sharing their hauls with us. I stopped on the way home a few days ago while another great neighbor helped a box turtle across the road just in sight of my house. Neighbors, mushrooms, turtles. Ingredients of a good life in Vermont. (Also, driving stick shift and teaching it to the next generation.) Rain. Ticks. Not so much!

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