Nothing Says, “Welcome Home,” Like A Dead Turtle

May 16, 2012 in Canada, North America, Travelogue

Nothing says “Welcome home,” like a huge dead turtle, lovingly collected and artistically laid by Gramps in the driveway as a gift for his boys.

There was much discussion over whether or not to peel the poor fellow out, for science or dinner, and how one would go about that. Grammy and I voted that they drag him back down the island to the “turtle crossing” sign where Gramps collected the corpse and where his stinking self would contribute to the ecosystem without contributing to the scent of the yard. Of course Gramps retold the stories of trapping turtles at Brule and canning them for winter consumption. One of my earliest memories is of decapitating unwilling tortugas with my Daddy as a tiny girl. They’re stringy tasting.

One of the best parts of having big kids is that their incessant pestering to be taking fishing has been replaced by the sound of voices retreating down the paths, then, crickets. They take themselves fishing.

We heard the boat motor whine as Gabe, in the bass boat, pulled this brothers by a long rope in their rowboat out through the canals and into the bay. We sipped our Mexican beers, congratulated Grammy on the long awaited construction of her pergola on the back deck and savoured the scent of roasting turkey wafting out of the kitchen’s bay window. 


As the sun set the marsh grass afire Hannah and Gabe burst, full tilt into the house with lifejackets still buckled, having run a quarter of a mile or so up from the far dock. A fish had been procured; a big one. There was nothing to do but hit the trails to hike down to the live trap and approve the catch, a nice bass, the length of her forearm. The motorboat revved again and they disappeared out through the canals hot on the trail of a more victims.


More happens here in eighteen hours than in most places, even if that eighteen hours includes nighttime. Simultaneously, less happens here in eighteen hours than in most places, and the peace is palpable. 

This morning the sky is grey and the poplar trees are swaying in a gentle dance to the music of the song birds. Tony saw the oriole last night; this irritates Grammy, she’s yet to see it this whole spring. We’ve sipped wine and I’ve been roundly defeated at a game of Scrabble. I have a full week to redeem myself. Ezra retrieved the coffee cups he won at a fair in Delft, Netherlands, years ago and is sipping his coffee in style with his Gramps. We opened the package from Uncle Josh and his family that Grammy’s been protecting from Grampsy’s curiosity for a couple of weeks: Cougar claw necklaces for the boys, from the cougar skeleton they found a while back, and sliced shell pieces for necklaces tucked into a beautiful hand knit pouch for Hannah and me, accompanied by a cute drawing from our nephew. A little parting gift as we leave the continent. My brother is cool like that. 

The house is quiet this morning, except for the squeak of the second story floor boards as Grammy moves between her art studio and the downstairs. Ezra just exited with a coffee can and careful instructions from Gramps on how and where to procure some fishing worms, “Be sure you grab them by the neck!” were the parting words of wisdom. The teenagers are in their boat. Tony is working. Gramps has moved on to instructing on two stroke engines, charting rocks in the bay and the acceptable perimeter for the unsupervised boating excursions being from Scotty’s house to the length of the canal that divides the island and has assigned a math problem involving calculating the cost of fuel that the boy is so eagerly burning up in his expeditions.

I am making lists. One week from today we’ll be making our final pack for lift off and there is much to do besides fish and repair the rotting logs in Grammy’s flowerbed below the deck. In addition to lunch with my fifth grade teacher tomorrow (who is single handedly responsible for my ability to write legibly) I’ve got enough to keep me busy for two weeks. I already know that the time is going to pass too fast. In the meantime, I’m enjoying that I need my long sleeved shirt and stripey socks this morning and that the air is cool and fresh.