I watched carefully as I steered slightly left and then straight across the engineered causeway to the island. Before I came to the first speed bump, I had to stop for two turtles, who were crossing the road. The campground hosts parked their golf cart on the shoulder, got out, and guided three more turtles who seemed confused or undecided whether or not to complete their crossing or go back to that tree stump that was after all, familiar. I was a little preoccupied with finding my campsite and told myself I’d rush right back with my camera as soon as I could. I found out these are ornate box turtles, and though I continued to see them every day, poking their heads above the water or sunning themselves on partially-submerged stumps, I never caught any trying to cross the road. I guess I had stumbled upon a peculiar rush hour on Monday.
On my daily bike rides from the causeway out to the Mississippi River Bike Trail, I saw beaver and a couple of their lodges far out in the still backwater, several heron or egrets or both, and I could swear I saw a pelican. Looking out over the expanse of tributaries and sloughs all around us and faster-moving waters on the west bank of the island, I was keenly aware that this wonderful stew of biomes – river, wetland, forest, and prairie - was teeming with life, life, life, over, around, and within the waters of the Mississippi.