Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Turtle

This is the first turtle I have bought home in about 3 years. There was a time when I was able to “rescue” one each year, and the last two years without seeing one crossing the road has made me a bit sad. It means that they are losing more of their habitat to us humans.

I found this plucky little fellow after a big rainstorm which was the back side of Hurricane Andres last week. He was right on the center line of the road near us, frozen there by the vibrations of the passing cars. I had to make a U-turn to go back and get him, but I’m glad I did. He might not have made it across without getting hit.
Several years ago I picked one up that and been hit and flung, cracking his shell. Not much I could do for him except to place him off the road and in the shade. I know he couldn't have lasted too long after that, but I like to think that I made him a bit more comfortable.

Turtles are very special to me. They represent not only the little red eared turtles I had as a child; and one in particular which was given to me by a friend in junior high school; they also remind me of the huge sea turtles which we encountered from time to time when I was in the Navy. These turtles would break surface; reminiscent of some prehistoric creature from the deep; gaze up into the sun, and then use their flippers to “pump” air into their shells before plunging back under the swells. Apart from the snapping turtle, they are generally such docile creatures.

One year I brought home a turtle that was almost ready to lay eggs; which of course Sue and I had no way of knowing. Hell, we didn't even know he was a she. We had been keeping “him” for a pet and were really surprised when “she” laid the eggs right in the garden where Sue had taken her for some exercise.

No sooner had she laid the eggs than she was off and running. That’s what they do. And, it also explains why so few of the hatchlings survive. That so few do, in turn, only serves to make those that do all the more special.

So this fellow; I’m calling him “Gus”, this way if “he” turns out to be a “she” I can just call her “Gussie”; is now living somewhere between my backyard and a nearby creek. I’m hoping the strawberries in the garden will keep him here, but I wouldn't put any money on it. Have you ever put a turtle down on the lawn and looked away for a minute? It’s incredible how quickly they can move when motivated. Kind of makes me think that the story that the story about the tortoise and the hare might actually be true.

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