And Then A Turtle Showed Up

Whenever I happen upon a new animal or insect on our property I take notice. Sometimes they’re just passing through, but sometimes they stay and yesterday we noticed a turtle sunning itself on a plank the geese and ducks use to access the dock in our pond. We’ve lived here for thirty-six years, raising our two boys here, and although lizards are prevalent none of us can remember seeing a turtle. I found what I believed was a desert tortoise on my driveway a few years ago and took it to a pet store who gave it to someone who had lizards and other reptiles, but I’ve never seen one in the pond before.

I reported our new addition to the Oregon Native Turtle Working Group, a group that monitors both native and non-native turtles in Oregon so that they would know one is over here in Central Oregon. I downloaded a pdf from their site so that we could learn what and what not to do for it. We live on the high desert on the east side of the Cascades, but we may be close enough to the mountains that they indeed live around here although their habitat is normally further west. We have two large ponds, so it should be happy here. The turtle looks healthy, so maybe it’s been here for a while and we just never saw it before.

For witches, everything either has a correspondence or is a correspondence and turtles are no different. Living both in the water as well as burrowing into the soil around the pond, turtles carry both Water and Earth Elemental influences so their direction would be west and north. This turtle was pointed north when he came up onto the plank, basking in the sun. Sunning themselves is one of their habits so we’ll add some additional logs so that it has other options.

Additional correspondences to the turtle are protection, defense, steadiness, measured growth, and fertility. Turtles can have long lifespans. In the case of this turtle, the western painted turtle, fifty years have been reported so we’ll do everything we can to protect its acquired habitat. With luck, a mate will show up if it’s not already here and we’ll have some babies to look forward to. But then so will the predatory birds that frequent our pond. Additional predators include fish and bullfrogs which are also in our pond along with raccoons and cats.

We’re blessed to live on this property. Five acres with flood irrigation allows us to have both pasture and a large fenced compound in which to grow a garden and raise our chickens. We expanded the apiary placing hives throughout the compound giving them more direct access to the apple trees and other flowering trees that grow here. Ravens congregate in the cottonwood and willow trees, chattering their greeting whenever we walk by. Lately, they’ve been imitating the chickens and bullfrogs with odd accuracy. Doves coo and quail run about making the most interesting sounds. At times the sounds of the bullfrogs, birds, and crickets are deafening. And if we’re truly blessed, an owl will stop by, hooting its hello. But walk just outside the compound and things become quiet with the normal sounds of the neighborhood all that we hear.

We live along side of the life with whom we share this beautiful place. We find ways to co-exist and observe them as they no doubt observe us. We seek to learn from each one preferring reciprocity over domination. All life matters in this blessed place. And now we have the coolest thing ever, a turtle to appreciate!



  1. Oregon Native Turtle Working Group

Originally published at on August 16, 2017.

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