See that critter to the right? It’s a turtle; an Iowa turtle.
Turtles may not be that rare in your part of the world, but they’ve been popping up like crazy in our little suburban community. This guy was discovered on a soccer field near our public library. On my morning walk today, I spotted another whose shell measured at least 12 inches. That’s huge for these parts.
We’re stuck in a wild, soggy weather pattern that’s put some of our wildlife on the move. Last week we spotted a muskrat near our back yard, something we hadn’t seen in over 20 years. Deer in our neighborhood are so common that they no longer run when seeing a human. Current deer populations consider themselves suburbanites, too, I suppose.
Times are definitely changing. Old-timers in Iowa still tell stories about what a thrill it was to catch a glimpse of a deer in their youth, a time when whitetails were rare in these parts. While deer and wild turkeys have enjoyed a comeback in Iowa over the years, other species have not. We’re in danger of losing a couple of species of turtles and several species of mammals, fish and birds, including the common barn owl.
I’m pretty much a city boy, though I’ve had several relatives who have lived on farms. Although contemporary life often pushes us further away from our connections with nature, I think it’s valuable to re-establish those connections whenever possible. Take a hike, go camping, hop on a bike. Check out nature from a fresh vantage point. This planet functioned quite nicely before we arrived and will do quite well after we’re gone.
In the meantime, our descendants will want to know how nature worked for the generations that preceded them. It’s possible that the pace of natural change is accelerating. It’s our duty to document those changes and their effects on our own family’s lives.