The adventures of a mini explorer

First, a note from your regular blogger: This space has been hijacked by my boss, Aimee Thibodeau. Oops. What I meant to say was, “I volunteered to host her cool turtle tale here, seeing as how she doesn’t have a blog of her own (yet).”

So sit back. Read. Enjoy. And send email to athibodeau@bangordailynews.com, telling her that she must, must, must get her own blog soon. (She’s a young mom with a lot of stories to tell. Trust me. I sit right next to her. Heck, some of the stories are even appropriate for a blog audience).

Chloe Thibodeau points at a baby snapping turtle she found Sunday morning.

Here, then, is today’s guest blog: The Adventures of a Mini Explorer, by Aimee (Boss) Thibodeau:

There is a long (the way I tell it) story behind why we ended up at my parent’s house in Rumford on Saturday night for an unplanned visit, but it’s not nearly as exciting as what we experienced while there.

Sunday morning, my husband (Cory) took our daughter (Chloe) outside. As you’ll see from the pictures, she was still in her jammies which consisted of a diaper and T-shirt — no shoes. Yes, we let our daughter play outside without shoes when we know there’s nothing bad she can get her little piggies into.

They were walking around the driveway when Chloe bent down and pointed. She had found a tiny snapping turtle — no bigger than a half dollar — freshly hatched, looking for water, and luckily, still much too small to snap at her.

I was summoned outdoors from my comfy spot at the kitchen table to see what Chloe had found. She pointed, she crouched, and squealed with delight as her newly found friend motored around the driveway. As Cory pointed out, turtles are like humans and apparently don’t get slow until they get older because these guys were moving.

As I turned to go back in the house and tell my dad that the eggs from the turtle nest he had so diligently guarded had hatched, I spotted another one of the little critters cuddled up next to the front steps. The rain from the night before had left the ground quite damp — perfect for little turtles, but apparently a little confusing, too, as they searched for a body of water.

A little geography lesson: My parents live along the Androscoggin River (fondly referred to by locals as “The Scrog”). There’s also a brook surrounded by blackberry bushes that runs through their property. Mama turtle had made the uphill journey to my parent’s driveway to lay her eggs sometime between 9 and 18 weeks ago, according to my research. Those eggs hatched and little turtles marched out of a hole, about 3 inches in diameter, looking for a place to call home. In their search, they became scattered in the driveway and front lawn and at risk of being scooped up by birds and bigger critters.

There are some of you who may think we should have left them alone, and perhaps we should have, but the nature lesson Chloe learned and the delight she had in helping Mommy, Daddy, Grammie and Grampie find seven baby snapping turtles was priceless.

We placed each one in a plastic tub where she watched them scamper over one another, turn on their backs and wiggle to right themselves, and stretch their little necks out as they discovered the world. In fact, they reminded me a lot of Chloe — the way she would wiggle as a baby, lift her wobbly head to explore the world at her fingertips, and eventually the way she rolled over, not sure how to return to her original position.

Chloe’s discovery came at quite a fitting time, because today she had her first day at big girl daycare. Up until now, we had been blessed to have a wonderful family friend care for her while we were at work during the day. But just like it was time for the little turtles to come out of their nest and explore the world, it was time for Chloe to set out on the next chapter of her childhood. And so today, with images of baby turtles and my little explorer fresh on my mind, I dropped her off for her next great adventure. I can’t wait to see what she’ll find next.

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John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.