It was a hot Friday afternoon at Clark Lake–lots of boats, swimmers, and fun. Then the sky clouded over, not with fluffy white Cottonelle, but ominous dark purplish mixtures coming from the north. Lake activity scattered as the wind picked up. Did that have anything to do with another unexpected occurrence, this one taking place late in the evening, or did it just feel like it?
The scene is near the Lakeview West and Eagle Point Road intersection. As you know, that’s close to the dreaded swamp. Why dreaded? Because you never know for sure what lurks below it surface, and you really don’t want to find out. It is in this area several Lakeviewians experienced an unusual night time natural encounter. Crossing the road was a giant snapper–its shell covered with swamp algae, its large head showcasing jaws that could easily amputate a finger, and a look that could take you back to the Jurassic period.
According to Sally McCarthy, this turtle had deposited eggs near her driveway, not far from the swamp. Instead of returning to the swamp, the turtle appeared to be heading to the lake. So there it was in the middle of Lakeview. Gathered at the scene were B.J. Lyons, Jill Bentley, and Sally. They were later joined by Michael McCarthy, Kyle Mains and Maris.
Concern built that a car would take out this long-lived creature. Now here’s where it gets interesting. Sally kept insisting the group “take the turtle back to the swamp.” At this point, her son, Michael (also a Lakeviewian) came walking down the street and joined the intellectual discourse. “It belongs in the lake, and that’s where it’s going.” A few dramatic moments later, B.J. picked up the turtle with a shovel and placed in a wheelbarrow. B.J. said it weighed at least 40 pounds.
Who won the mother/son debate? Michael wheeled the snapper behind the McCarthy garage, through thick, buggy vegetation to a small opening to the swamp. Clearly the turtle was not having any of this and not in a good mood, for sure. It repeatedly lunged at Michael, it’s large powerful jaws snapping in his direction. Once at the opening, Michael deftly tipped the wheelbarrow, and the mother turtle plopped into the slimy goo and swam away. No one followed it into the swamp to see where it went.
The iPhone photos do not do justice to the turtle’s size. A full 18 inches long, the head was the diameter of cottage cheese lid. It’s claws were retracted, but you could tell these prehistoric appendages could do their duty. You could feel the wariness of those present. No one wanted to test the turtle’s prowess, which could be one reason why this specie survived and the dinosaurs did not.
For concerned swimmers, a few verses into Chuck Berry’s My Ding-a-Ling suggests caution. You can easily find this 1972 gem on the internet, but skip it if you are easily offended.