Red-eared Slider of My Youth

Today at work, a random stuffed animal shows up. It’s a stuffed/varnished turtle. I enthusiastically ask to research but I already know what it is from my youth: a Red-eared Slider Water Turtle!

Because of growing up in the rural parts of this country, I caught lots of “critters”: snakes, frogs, toads, salamanders, lizards, tortoises, turtles, fish, tadpoles, crickets, grasshoppers, etc. I had been doing this since about age 3.

Its one of the few escapes I had, and I could avoid the yelling of my biological father. I’d sometimes do things with my other siblings, mostly my younger sister: climbing trees, building forts, picking black berries, picking flowers, running through the corn fields.

I haven’t seen my younger sister in more than 10 years. She lives in LA and has a car, so I hope she’d visit. It kills me sometimes that I hadn’t seen her in so long. Perhaps sometime before time weighs heavy we can visit each other?

The fruits and berries I picked were definitely “safe” as they were kinds I had helped my mother pick, but they were also safe according to our Collier Encyclopedia set. That encyclopedia set was the most useful thing about not having the internet invented yet. I could research any of the animals I caught. I avoided many poisonous snakes because of it. I had a library card since age 4 too!

In the city, there are squirrels and raccoons for wildlife. No frogs, no turtles, no salamanders (my favorite), no toads, no creeks with tadpoles to catch either. It seems that age has removed all feral life from my surroundings. How the hell did this happen?!?

This land is barren. For all the income I make, there isn’t “life” here. Am I that old? Can’t be.

My baby sister also had a pet slider. His bowl was on the table and when swatting house flies, one could offer the tribute to his hungry mouth. I think he wandered near the house after a rainfall.

My friend and I watch the show “Naked & Afraid” lately. So many skills that people lack, I possess. We talk about skills and knowledge. She compliments with enthusiasm and surprise when I share about the things learned in my youth and the military. Her and I could do this “in theory” because I happen to be a diabetic, there wouldn’t be days and days without eating. I would simply be dead.

She asks:  “How do you catch a snake?” I reply: “Throw some clothing on top of it or take a stick and pin its head.” We laugh too as the man on the island is afraid of snakes and caimans and the woman doesn’t mind doing most of the work. My vegetarian partner knows the value of food when you are living in the wild. I’d be tempted to eat it without cooking it given my potential hunger. We understand if you kill it, you eat it-its not raised in a hellish torture factory farm for consumers.

It’s funny that the turtle came in the morning after this show. It’s funny too that so much of what I know about the wild, I learned from books by myself,

 as a child.



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