‘Snapping Turtle,’ by Pat Price

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Pat Price is a terrific writer who grew up in Allendale, and she always has a terrific take on things, including certain Allendale amphibians that always look like they stepped out of the primordial ooze. Especially this time of year. (Thanks, Patty!)

Snapping Turtle

By Pat Price

   The stuff of nightmares, this snapping turtle who slowly steers his black barge body Charon-like across the evening water. In measured strokes he glides along, a threat veiled in duckweed, concealed in shadow. A  toothless old man with a guillotine jaw has marked for death an unsuspecting drowsy fellow.
   This stream is not for dreamers so turn away if you must. Search for your Edens elsewhere, right now what’s needed is a little prayer, and oh… a hush goes out across the air…Too quickly we recover.
   A lump of slag from the potter’s wheel, cast off in a brackish stream, has reemerged a dripping hallucination with algae eyes, a twitching snout, and moss-covered plates of armor.
   Those claws I’ve seen before it seems, strung ‘round the neck of an old Lenape woman. It’s rumored that when she died, the claws clutched her neck and scarred her throat while dragging her beneath the water, unable to let her go. She reappeared as a piece of bark on which today he floats away.
   A shunned outcast, a solitary figure, he gets a wide berth from the other pond dwellers who repulse his advances and alert the others. They cross the road, they flee the lake, they take to flight, they duck for cover, they cross themselves while this menacing fellow eats his crimes and leaves not a toe or a ripple behind.
   You’ll find him at the base of the Old-World Tree among tangled roots and vines that reach into the water, and there an eroded bank reveals a muddy underworld where bloodworms and nematodes wrestle one another.
   He plays the role that was assigned him, and he plays it very well. For this he deserves respect and honor. He rids the pond of the sick and injured when the thread of life is cut. He lunches on green matter when the harvest is lush. He prunes the pond to keep it healthy, no toxic cauldron simmers.
  And tonight, this fellow is out for a stroll - mercy has no place here. The song of the turtle is the last song you’ll hear.

Pat also wrote thsis pros-poem about the Celery Farm reeds at sunset:

https://www.celeryfarm.net/2021/12/a-prose-poem-to-cap-the-year.html

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My Event at The Raptor Trust

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 Join me on Sunday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at The Raptor Trust’s Education Center, 1390 White Bridge Rd., Millington, for an open house that’s all about owls.
   The event features my latest book, "The Screech Owl Companion,” and offers plenty of cool owl touch-table items, interactive displays, giveaways, book signing, and all you could ever want to know about New Jersey’s cutest owl. This event is co-sponsored by The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey.
    The event is free and fun for all ages, with no reservations required (donations are appreciated).

Passenger Pigeon: Part II

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I stopped by the Schoolhouse Museum in Ridgewood on Sunday and saw some really cool old birding-related items — a classic birding book for kids,  a pair of gunner’s glasses, and a basket to transport Passenger Pigeons (above). Perfect timing for today’s Bird Watcher column.