(Editor?s note: This is one in a series of monthly stories taking a close-up look at neighborhoods in Petaluma.)
As legend has it, once upon a not-so-distant time, turtles apparently lived in Petaluma?s Lynch Creek.
And so, when a subdivision of homes was built adjacent to the creek, the name ?Turtle Creek? was chosen for the neighborhood.
But several residents queried this month say they have never seen turtles in the creek, although a large assembly of other critters ? including deer, foxes, raccoons and skunks ? have turned up in the neighborhood.
?In fact, last fall, we saw seven raccoons rolling down a driveway,? said Ingram Way resident Suzanne Young, laughing.
While ?Turtle Creek? might now be a misnomer, the neighborhood?s street names, primarily bird types, more faithfully reflect its makeup. Hummingbirds, hawks, woodpeckers, buzzards, egrets and all sorts of other birds fly around and hang out in the area.
?We?re bird watchers, so we enjoy it,? said Linda Buffo, who has lived in Turtle Creek with husband Steve for the past five years. ?Many people here are interested in birds.?
Residents customarily rattle off directions that leave visitors feeling that they will be entering a bird community.
?After entering the neighborhood on Turtle Creek Drive, take a right on Sparrow Lane, a left on Linnet Lane and a right on Hawk Drive,? say some residents, who can always choose to inundate visitors with several more bird names if they want to give unnecessarily complicated directions.
Residents and visitors alike have found that birds are only one attractive feature of the neighborhood, which sits on property formerly known as Wild Willow Ranch, purchased in 1905 by the family of current Petaluma resident Peter Matzen, 93. The Turtle Creek subdivision sprang up in the 1990s and has become one of Petaluma?s most desirable areas to live.
?I was born and raised in Petaluma, and have lived all over the area, on the east and west sides. This neighborhood is a particularly bright and cheery place, and is in a great location,? said Onita Pellegrini, the CEO of the Petaluma Chamber of Commerce, who has lived in the neighborhood for the past seven years.
?It reminds me of what the west side of Petaluma must have been like, once upon a time,? said Sally Brasseur, who has lived with her husband, Richard, on Ingram Street since 2001.
?We used to live on the west side, and loved the history there,? Buffo said. ?Steve and I wondered what it would be like to live in a more modern environment, so eventually we decided to move to Turtle Creek. It?s really a wonderful place, and I especially like the walking trails. Each walk gives us a new experience.?
Kids and adults alike love walking on neighborhood paths beside Lynch Creek and crossing its small, scenic bridges.
?Pathways go all around the creek,? said Young, a resident of the neighborhood since 2001. ?This is a very good place to walk and bike.?
Some residents laud the accessibility that the paths provide.
?I can get on the trails, and walk all the way to the Santa Rosa Junior College campus and the (Parkway Plaza) shopping center,? Pellegrini said.
Turtle Creek offers other recreational and leisure options. Its eastern boundary is Prince Park, which contains baseball, softball, soccer and football fields; walking and bicycling paths; and a food concession building.