Growing up in the country provides many opportunities most youngsters don’t ever get. Lakes, woods, the mountains – and the joys of hunting and fishing. For most, it becomes a way of life. Another advantage is the scores of wildlife that can be witnessed, especially by those who live in rural America. In the swamps and farmlands of northeast North Carolina, a variety of species is readily at hand for observation. Some have to be closely looked for.

After a lifetime in Virginia Beach, moving to the Carolinas nearly two decades ago was an eye opener to say the least – even for a country boy used to such things. Birds and seasonal arrivals are plenty. Sparrows, crows – even birds of prey like hawks and eagles. Looking outside one morning and seeing a bald eagle on the roof of the shed was thrilling.

The area features an abundance of snakes, skinks, frogs and toads – which are why the snakes and reptiles all love it as much as we do. Found plenty in the pool or back yard through the years. But guys like Boxey – about a two-pound box turtle – went unseen. Until I noticed something in the pool the other day. Reaching down to pick him up was easy and he told me he had stopped by for a swim and to stomach a few frogs. A few pictures and a conversation later and he was back in the yard to do his thing. The snakes were none too happy about the whole deal.

That night, the frogs and toads sang loudly, the fireflies lit up the field and Boxey spent time looking for a snack. And reminded us of the joys of country living.

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