Dee at Voices in My Mind had a post today about a box turtle that her husband brought home for her son to see. It brought back all kinds of memories for me about the turtles we used to play with when I was growing up.
We lived in a rural area of Kansas City on a 13-acre plot, and there was plenty of wildlife wandering through our yard, pasture and woods at any given time. Every year, we'd catch box turtles, play with them for a while, then let them go. One year, at what must have been a parent's suggestion, we decided to name one of the turtles and paint the name on its shell with white latex house paint.
That first turtle's name was Pat, and we let it go after we got tired of feeding it produce from the kitchen and watching it pee when we picked it up (just like a toad, which were also fun to play with).
The next year, turtle season came along and there was Pat - except that the lettering on its shell had weathered so that the name said "Pot." Excited by our success, we started naming and marking other turtles. There was one called Zot (which was probably inspired by the cartoon "B.C.") and a small one we called Tot. I don't remember any others, but there were probably more.
Occasionally a huge, washtub-sized snapping turtle would wander from one of the nearby stock ponds up to the corral or even the yard. When that happened, my dad would grab it by the tail and drag it back to the woods or pond. He said that they would snap viciously the whole time, cleanly severing saplings as big around as his thumb. Those stories made me equally scared and fascinated.
What wild creatures did you encounter as a child? Do you still see them around?
10/5/07 - I couldn't resist adding this photo, which came from this site: