My wife and I had just ended a paddle from Huguenot to Reedy Creek. It was her first run, and we had an afternoon without the kids, and just the river to entertain us.
She listened to me all day (in reality, an entire year) talking on and on about Warren Foster, a great lover of the James that I’d met through randomly-orchestrated maneuvers I made in hopes of doing a story on him (which I did).
The maneuvers involved me leaving a note for Warren at gate of Pony Pasture’s parking lot, the best place for him find it. He volunteers for the James River Park System, taking care of nearby Williams Island and unlocking the gates to Pony Pasture every day.
I knew of him because I’d asked park manager Ralph White how Warren got his name on a sign on the portage trail at Williams Island. Ralph said Warren was a volunteer, but that he didn’t have his phone number…. Anyway. my trick worked and Warren called me the next day. He also ended up introducing me to the Atlas of the James, which I’ve used heavily in my research and adventures.
Back to my story.
Sure enough, Warren surprisingly paddles up in his old and scarred sit-on-top kayak same time we did at Reedy Creek at the end of our run. We were amazed at the coincidence, but considering that Warren is on the river as much as God will allow him to be, the percentages weren’t that low.
So while we were exchanging more James river stories, an amazing thing happened.
We looked down at a little brown “rock” MOVING. Digging its way out of the sand along the shoreline at the takeout. It was a turtle — maybe a river cooter or a snapping turtle (I checked with this JRPS page). Smallest thing I can imagine, probably the size of an acorn.
We marvelled at nature, exchanged a few more stories and remarks and headed home. Warren noted that my kayak had a few more scuffs and scratches on it, which reminded me of his best quote that I often reuse: “It doesn’t get scratched up sitting in the garage.”
That kayak trip was in October of 2008. I hope to get down to Reedy Creek for a walk or two — if not a paddle — and see if the wonders of nature are again in full swing. Turning rocks into turtles….