At our age, it's hard to actually keep track of such trivial things as years, but I think it has been about two and a half years since tiny Verne was discovered by Lauren and Jameson in our middle pond. I reached in and plucked the little fellow out using two fingers, in order to confirm its identity as a snapping turtle. We have no idea how he came to be there, but he was somewhat less than two inches across, and not much longer than that, including his tail.
We did not expect the creature to linger long. We once made an effort to actually introduce turtles into the pond system, but they would never hang around long. After a few days or on rare occasions, a few weeks, they would be gone, either wandered away or gone for some other reason.
The snapping turtle, however, lingered on. He made his home in a grotto I had built into the pond long before I anticipated that there would ever be Verne, and would spend most of his time there. In the months when the trees were bare, we would never see him.
Then, as we began to feel as if springtime was close at hand, Verne would gradually begin to favor us with his presence yet again.
Today, I walked across the street and into the neighbors' driveway, and bent over to pick him up and return to his home. I must say that Verne had grown considerably more robust since that first time I lifted him with two fingers. I used two hands, and he was not willing to be lifted. Having just recovered from a couple of weeks of careful attention to a puncture wound in my hand from a broken tree branch, I was not interested in confronting those flailing claws and risking further damage.
It was exactly at that time when the partner showed up and we made the mutual decision that if Verne wanted to go to the river, there was nothing we could do to stop him. If we took him back across the street, he would probably leave again during the night or tomorrow. The Wild has called, and Verne has gone. Farewell old friend, you gave us much pleasure, and if you should ever wish to climb back up to the river's ridge, we'll welcome you.