WEST BRATTLEBORO — I passed her as she staggered out of the culvert by the side of Route 30. She seemed in distress, so I turned around on my bike and dismounted.
I wasn't sure if this snapper's eyes were open until I saw them tear, then take me in - wondering, I suspect, if I meant her harm.
I guessed that she was about 20 years old. I wondered if she had eggs in her, if this chance encounter might be the continuation of millions of years of dinosaur progeny.
I tried to pick her up from behind, but her carapace reared backwards, startling me. Her black claws scratched the ground. Certainly, they were long enough to break skin. Fishermen surely tell the tale of the guy who lost a finger to her snapping jaws.
The traffic roared passed us: trucks, 18-wheelers, motorcycles. I accessed her chances of crossing without my aid: zero. I would have to pass this way in about two hours; if I were to see her flattened and splattered on the road, I didn't think I'd be able to live with myself, my lack of action, or lack of care or attention.
“I'm scared, and I have to do this,” I told her.
* * *
She snapped at me and turned to retreat back to the culvert. I got behind her and grabbed her by the tail. As I lifted, I guessed she weighed about 20 pounds. Her well-named jaws snaked to either side but remained far from my legs.
Across the busy highway lay cattails and a scummy backwater, perfect for this hot May day. It took little time to run her across the road and lay her safely in the high grass.
Good deed accomplished. My scoutmaster, Mr. Ellis, surely long dead now, would be proud.
As I rode away, I heard Elton John sing in my head, “Someone saved my life tonight.” Perhaps that is grandiosity.
What's the song that goes with helping an old lady across the street?