Few people are aware, but the team here in Joplin, under the guise of working on a mural, is actually on a very secret and important mission - Terrapin Rescue and Relocation. It began last year when, while wandering the back streets of Tonakawa, Oklahoma, Nicholas stumbled across a large, angry, and disoriented snapping turtle trying to cross four lanes of traffic that interrupted its drainage ditch habitat.
After a short period of getting acquainted, Nicholas was able to grab the angry one by the tail and take it safely out of harms way. Then, just a few days after this, Amber had to stop her car on the interstate to rescue another snapper, this one just a babe no bigger than a silver dollar, but feisty nonetheless.
Which brings us to this morning when, as I went out to get baked goods, I noticed ahead of me the telltale shape of stranded turtle on the asphalt.
Forgetting the donuts, I pulled over onto the shoulder and went into rescue mode, guiding the large red-eared slider into a temporary carriage. Our guess is that his or her source of water had dried up under the heat dome we've been living with, and felt the need to cross Lone Elm Road in search of a new and more hospitable home.
I sent a text ahead to Nicholas and Amber, who, understanding that time was of the essence, met me in the driveway, examined the patient, and then hopped in the car. A couple miles north of home we found access to a beautiful little gurgling creek. Perfect. Nicholas, being the expert, did the honors of releasing our friend into its new environs. Mission accomplished. Now...the mural.