True confession: I’m a gawker. I’m not a fan of most rubber-necking – when people slow down in traffic to see an accident site or pulled-over car. I have to admit I usually look; I think it’s human nature. But even as I glance over, I’m very conscious about not slowing down just to catch a glimpse of suffering or chaos. That, however, is not the case when it comes to nature. If I have a chance to see the extraordinary in the middle of my everyday life, I’m gonna gawk.

A family of ducks are crossing the road? I’ll stop and wait till they’re back on grass. Rainbow overhead? I’ve been known to inadvertently sit through a green light as I watch the sky. In fact, my kids are totally used to me turning the car around to get a better look at something wonderful. 

It happened this past weekend. After running errands this weekend, I pulled into our neighborhood and noticed three people kneeling on the sidewalk. I slowed to a crawl – ignoring all traffic laws, yes – and realized they were looking at a giant turtle! I drove two blocks home, ran into the house and told my eight year old to hurry down with me to see the turtle. Left the ice cream and frozen pizza in the trunk and we quickly headed to the neighborhood pond where I’d seen the turtle gawkers.

They were still there, marveling at this giant snapping turtle. We stood in the drizzling rain and talked with them about his claws, his scales, his shell, his size, his funny expressions. Ugly? Yes. Beautiful? Totally.

Other drivers noticed us and pulled to the side of the road. Some stopped briefly and sped off. One glitzy gal who was all dressed up with someplace to go pulled over, got out and was overjoyed to see a snapping turtle up close. A kindred spirit! A nature gawker!

If you wind up driving behind me someday, I apologize if my rubber-necking interrupts your flow or slows you down. But consider yourself warned: I brake for miracles.