Monster in the Chamomile Patch

posted in: Wildlife | 0


It was a nice afternoon, and I had been working hard in the garden for the last few days, so I decided to take on a relaxing chore. The chamomile looked like it was perfect for harvesting so I settled into the patch of flowers to begin the slow and careful job of removing flower heads. I knew that sitting hidden in the chamomile, and becoming absorbed in the quiet work of picking, made me virtually invisible to all the wildlife around. A black bear visited the garden a few times recently and I was concerned he might return and not realize I was in the garden. I certainly didn’t want to startle any bears so I remained on alert, listening and watching for anything going on around me.

Other than the threat of being trapped and eaten by a bear picking chamomile is a pretty relaxing job. I sat among the plants, picked flower heads and dropped them into a bowl. As the bowl began to fill my fingers and the still humid afternoon air all around me grew thick with a scent of green apples and sweetgrass. Fresh picked chamomile smells delicious!

After a few minutes of picking in silence I was startled by rustling sound in the garden only a few feet away from me. It was subtle at first but then suddenly shook the chicken wire fence surrounding the garden. I jumped to my feet so I could identify the invader. Initially I thought it might have been a rabbit but when I saw the fence shake again I knew it had to be something else, something much bigger. I cautiously waded through the long grass and weeds to the other end of the garden where I could get a good look at the beast. And a beast it was! A large mean-looking snapping turtle had trapped himself in the garden and couldn’t find a way under, around or over the chicken wire fence!

Common snapping turtles aren’t so common anymore and have become a protected species around here. This one was fairly large, much larger than the Blanding’s and Painted turtles we usually get in the pond, but not nearly as large as it could be. I’ve seen these guys get much larger. Fortunately this one wasn’t too big and heavy to manage. I did have to be careful though as their long necks give them surprising reach. He snapped at me many times as I tried to steer him into a container to get him out of the garden. Once out of the garden I was able to take a few photos before returning him to the pond.

After removing the monster from the chamomile patch I returned to the relaxing job I had set out to do in the first place. I managed to fill a couple bowls full of flowers before it became to dark to continue working. I keep the bowls in my room beside my bed where they can dry and fill the air with their amazing scent. Tomorrow I might go out to get the rest of the chamomile, and hopefully I’ll be able to once again fill up some bowls with flowers and not lose any limbs while I do it!