Crossing Guard

Our son Tim was the one who first spotted the turtle. We all went over to see her. This painted turtle had come over from the pond across the road and walked up our driveway. She veered off onto the grass until she was a few feet away from the driveway. She found a dirt patch in the yard, amid black-eyed Susans, dug herself a little hole with her back legs, and lowered her back end into the hole. She stayed there a little while. We gave her her space, but I assume she was laying eggs. She got up and covered the hole with dirt. She started the long trek down the driveway to the pond. We marked her nest with a small stone so we would remember not to disturb it.

When I mowed the lawn, I mowed around it, but I wanted everyone to know not to tread there. I put a small metal grate in front of the nest. I told people about it. I still wasn’t sure it was obvious what it was. I hung a sign that said “Turtle Nest” on the grate. Now it’s obvious.

A few years ago, we had a turtle nest in the yard, but we didn’t know it. Closer to the road and the driveway in a very sandy spot, someone must’ve inadvertently driven over a nest because we went out one day to find tire tracks in the sand and small white eggs broken open. Even though we hadn’t known they were there, we were sad over these babies who never got a chance.

Now that we have a protected area, we hope to see turtle babies next month–about 72 days from when we saw the mother laid the eggs. We put the date on the calendar and are anxiously awaiting their birth.

Apparently, we are not the only turtle fans. Driving down another rural road about an hour away, we came upon a handmade sign, a large piece of plywood placed by the roadside. Spray-painted words read “Help Turtles Cross.” After seeing the sign, I slowed down a little, keeping an eye out for creatures attempting to cross the road. How kind of that person to alert motorists to the possibility that there may be animals trying (however slowly) to reach their destination. And that they might need our help getting there.

In fact, that sign did more than that for me. It reminded me of some life lessons. Slow down. Look around. Help those who can’t make it the whole way on their own. Sometimes that means gently picking them up and carrying them across. Sometimes it means giving them space. Sometimes it simply means providing a safe, quiet place to grow.

 About the Author: Amy Nicholson is a freelance writer who lives in Northfield, CT. She hopes to encourage and inspire others through her work. She has been published in Country Woman, The Old Schoolhouse, The Lookout, and other publications. In addition to writing and discovering grace in ordinary places, Amy substitute teaches. Visit her at