Jim Boswell calls himself "a writer of the spirit from the heartland." A native of Culver, Indiana, he now lives in North Carolina, but continues to write stories and novels that take place in a the fictional Indiana town. He is the author of one published novel, "The Sower's Seeds." More of his work can be found on his blog at: www.indyboswell.com.
Hunting for Turtles
On their mid-summer journey Tommy and Jimmy entered the Indian Trails with young boy enthusiasm. The Indian Trails, a small patch of land on the northern shoreline of Lake Kamala, extended not much more than a quarter mile in all directions. Abutted to the west by a public park and the east by the campus of a preparatory boys’ academy, the Indian Trails represented the locale’s last vestige of people that had inhabited the shores of the beautiful lake long before the encroachment of Western civilization. Three different trails cut parallel through the property—one high, one low, and one through the middle. The Indian Trails were both a place of adventure and of opportunity—and a place where boys could begin discovering the men they would become.
In less than three weeks, Tommy and Jimmy would be attending fourth grade classes together, but today they were enjoying one of their remaining free summer mornings—hunting for turtles. The boys entered the Indian trails from the public park side on the lower trail. It was a perfect day, and the sun’s reflection bouncing from the calm surface of the lake through the shoreline trees portended a good day ahead.
Although others did not understand, Tommy was Jimmy’s best friend and Jimmy was Tommy’s. Most people thought Tommy was slow—in terms of foot as well as of mind. Tommy was bigger than Jimmy because of weight rather than because of strength or height. Jimmy was a teacher’s pleasure. Slim, smart, and energetic, Jimmy played sports; Tommy didn’t. Jimmy was quick to action; Tommy was not. Regardless, Tommy saw many things that Jimmy didn’t. Jimmy generally didn’t have time to see things—he was always too busy. Regardless, Tommy, the thinker, and Jimmy, the boy of action, formed a good alliance.
As Tommy and Jimmy entered the Indian Trails this morning, Tommy wanted to chase turtles to observe their actions from his attack. Tommy didn’t actually want to catch turtles because he knew that, for survival, the turtles needed to live their lives unencumbered in their natural habitat. Unlike his friend, Jimmy didn’t simply want to observe the turtles. He wanted to catch several, take them home, paint numbers on their backs, and have turtle races on the lawn. Jimmy didn’t consider what he would do with them after the races, but more than likely, he would return them to the lake.
The boys knew that the best place to observe turtles or capture turtles was along the half-mile stretch of lakeshore along the boys’ academy property. The Indian Trails were the best way to get there. Despite this knowledge, Tommy and Jimmy decided to give the lower Indian trail at least a chance—being the trail along the shoreline, it was the only one of the three trails where they might find turtles. It didn’t take long, however, before the boys gave up and headed for the high trail instead. Although allowing for less adventure, being higher with fewer trees breaking vision, the high trail provided a better view of Lake Kamala.
Once on the high trail and about half way through the mystical property, Tommy wanted to rest. Although Jimmy wanted to continue so he could get a drink from the cold spring further on, he sat down with Tommy. Jimmy knew he could wait another five minutes before his thirst would take over, driving him on.
As the boys rested, Tommy noticed a Monarch butterfly flapping its wings over a bristle weed. Under his breath he said, “I wonder if he’s affecting the weather?”
“What did you say?” Jimmy asked, having not heard Tommy clearly.
“Looking at that butterfly over there flapping its wings,” Tommy said pointing towards the Monarch. “I was just wondering if he was affecting the weather that we’re having.”
“Maybe the weather directly around his wings,” Jimmy scoffed. “Yeah, he might be affecting that, but I sure don’t think much more than that.”
Tommy looked at his friend. “I don’t know. I was just wondering.”
The two boys stared out upon the water without either speaking. Tommy was relaxed, but Jimmy was anxious to get moving.
In the distance—nearly four miles away, a train whistle blew.
“Hear that?” Tommy asked. “Isn’t that amazing?”
“What? What’s amazing?” Jimmy asked, not having the slightest idea to what Tommy was referring.
“That train whistle! Didn’t you hear it? I wonder where it’s going? What it’s carrying?”
“I didn’t hear any train whistle. What are you talking about?” Jimmy asked.
“You didn’t hear the train whistle?”
“No, I didn’t hear anything.”
“Well, one just blew—probably crossing the tracks out there at Burr Oak.”
“You couldn’t hear a train from all that way! That’s stupid!”
“Well, I did!”
“Ah baloney,” Jimmy replied in such a way to end any further discussion on the matter.
The two boys sat quietly. Before long, however, Jimmy rose and began to badger Tommy to get up so they could move on. Tommy slowly stood and the boys headed off again, dropping down to the middle trail where they both knew where to find the fresh flowing spring of Jimmy’s desire. When the two boys reached the fountain, Jimmy was ecstatic. He was really thirsty! The clear flow of water bubbling forth from the ground sparkled like liquid diamonds.
“Boy, have I been waiting for this! This is the best water in the whole wide world!” Jimmy quickly dropped to his knees, lowered his head down to the ground, and drank from nature’s blessing. After slurping and reveling in the taste of the fresh spring water, Jimmy leaned back up, then wiped the cool wetness from his face with his arm. “It’s your turn, Tommy. It’s really great!”
“I’m not thirsty,” Tommy responded. “I don’t want any.”
“What do you mean you don’t want any?” Jimmy asked in total disbelief. “You can’t pass on this! This is the best water in the whole wide world!”
“My mom said it might not be good for me.” Tommy responded. “She only lets me drink water out of the faucet at home.”
“Ah, hogwash, Tommy. Live a little! Take a chance!”
“I don’t want to,” Tommy responded. “Anyway I promised I wouldn’t.”
“I can’t believe you, Tommy,” Jimmy said, showing his frustration by waving his arm in disgust. “Oh well, all right, let’s go on then. We can’t waste the whole day here. We need to catch some turtles.”
Jimmy got up, and the two boys moved on—this time back down to the lower trail again. As the boys approached the end of the wooded lower trail, they came upon a small opening. Again they stopped. Jimmy reached down, picked up a flat-faced rock, then quickly side-armed the flat missile out onto the surface of the lake. Seventeen skips. A perfect throw! A trail of circular ripples decreasing in size stretched from the spot of the first skip to the last. It was a thing of beauty!
“You shouldn’t have done that,” Tommy complained.
“I shouldn’t have done what?”
“Thrown that rock out in the water like that. That’s polluting! What if that rock didn’t want to be in the water?”
“What’re you talking about? That’s not polluting! That’s skill! Anyway, that rock doesn’t care where it is!
“Well, you shouldn’t have…”
“Look, Tommy, that rock didn’t care that the glaciers dropped it here centuries ago, I’m sure to heck sure it doesn’t care that it’s sitting at the bottom of the lake now. To tell you the truth, it should feel happy. It was part of a magnificent throw!”
“Well, uh, well I…” Tommy stammered. After a few seconds he conceded. “Ah, let’s just move on. What do you say?”
Jimmy smiled and nodded.
Two minutes later the boys exited the Indian Trails. Neither boy had taken more than ten steps onto the academy property—when Tommy reached over and stopped Jimmy by grabbing his shoulder. Excitedly, Tommy pointed towards a large rock sticking about three inches out of the water about two feet from shore. A small camel-backed turtle sat sunning itself.
Jimmy looked at his friend, smiled, then whispered. “All right, let’s go! You go around to the left, I’ll come from the right!”
And the boys darted off in stride.