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Turtle Rescue and Life on a Minnesota Lake--Denise Oakes

As told by Denise Oakes
Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

Story Narrative:

This story was collected as part of a collaborative effort to record the state of American lakes, rivers, and waterways as well an attempt to uncover what water means to Americans. Listen to other stories recorded for the Be Here: Main Street project, a collaboration with the MuseWeb Foundation to record stories from rural America. 

“My name is Denise Oaks and I live out on Buffalo Lake here in Becker County, along with my husband and two of my three children. My oldest is gone out of the house. We chose to live on a lake here in Becker County because my husband and I both grew up fishing a lot. I grew up in southern Minnesota, where my grandparents had a lake home about 20 minutes from where I grew up and we used to go there on the weekends, every weekend in the summer, and we spent lots of time swimming and fishing, growing up, and catching turtles and frogs and things like that. My husband grew up in west central Minnesota by Ortonville and he did a lot of fishing and hunting and stuff with his father, and his brothers.

Moving to Detroit Lakes and getting jobs here, we just felt, because there were so many lakes that we would really like to have a lake home, because then we could have our kids grow up doing the same kinds of things that we loved to do as kids, and it's been really nice. Our kids do a lot of swimming and fishing, and catching turtles and frogs and all of those fun things that kids do. That's what we wanted for our family.

Since we live on a lake, we realize that there's responsibilities, of course, that go along with living on the lake to protect the lake and the animals that live in and around the lake. What we've done at our home, is we've left the lake shore natural, down to the lake. We can barely see through the trees in the summer time when they're all leafed out, and people keep asking us when they come to visit, "Why don't you cut down some of those trees so you can see the lake?" And we say, "Well, we know it's there and we can go down there and enjoy it when we want to, but the trees and the other vegetation down there help protect the lake."

One of the other things that we had happen this last summer was in the spring, I notice a snapping turtle laying eggs in our driveway, and I showed my 15-year-old. I had him come out and take a look, and we stood far enough away and were respectful of her laying her eggs, and we marked the spot so we can remember where it was. She went off on her merry way and we forgot about the eggs until it was Labor Day morning.

We went outside to take a look at a couple other things, and all of a sudden I saw a baby turtle in the grass, and so I took my 13-year-old out there and I said, "Hey, there's some baby turtles out here. Let's collect them and take them down to the lake and give them a head start, so birds don't get them and stuff." We ended up collecting over the day, probably about 15 baby turtles and releasing them into the lake, and it really felt good that we gave them that extra boost for survival. I think that's really important, to be able to be respectful of the wildlife in and around the lakes.”

Asset ID #3891

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