Friday, August 7, 2009

Conversation with a turtle

The other evening we went for a walk to one of our favorite places, and came upon a herd of deer: one buck, a fawn, and some does. Now, there are few things in life that a collie loves to do more than run, and my cousin Cody and I would have taken after those deer in a split second. It's so much fun to have something to run after and corral: rabbits, geese, deer, goats, horses--it makes no difference to us.

But she wouldn't let us. She never lets us give chase when a fawn is present. She knows we would not harm the baby, but she worries the fawn could get hurt trying to keep up with its mother. So, we have to be satisfied with looking and barking.

Sometimes on our walks we come upon a turtle. Cody is intrigued by these shy, helmeted creatures. And frustrated. He doesn't understand why they won't come out to play. After a few minutes of nosing and barking, he'll give up and walk away--looking back frequently to see if a head or foot pops out from the shell.

Generally, I don't bother with turtles. They're not fast enough to chase or numerous enough to herd. But the giant turtle we came upon once got my attention.

He was trying to get under the fence that separated us, but was too large to make it through the scooped out place in the dirt that the rabbits and groundhogs use. The top of his shell was as high as my elbow, and of equal length. In dog time, he would have been ancient, but he assured me that for a turtle he was only middle aged.

I asked him why he wanted to leave the woods that had kept him safe for so long. He said he was looking for his offspring. Seems they would leave the woods and never return to the creekside where they were born. The turtle thought that odd. Surely, even with the fence, some of the youngsters who could fit through the rabbit scoops would return to find mates and lay eggs for the next generations.

Turns out the turtle was born in the days when man traveled on horseback, and used hand-held scythes or mule-drawn tools to cultivate and harvest crops. When I told him about cars and trucks, and lawnmowers and brush hogs, at first he did not believe me. But then I told him of my own encounters with what remained of his offspring on the days Cody and I roamed the nearby fields after they had been mowed.

The turtle grew silent and looked at me with great sadness. The last we saw of him was his giant shell merging into the blackness of the woods.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Hi, Kylee: This is your cousin, May. I think it's neat that you get to talk to turtles. I have a couple of kitty kats that wander through my yard every once in so often. The orange one is really big. The black on is kind of little yet. I have a new neighbor, too. His name is Spencer. I think he is a Boston Terrior. He is black and white and likes to jump. Maybe when he gets a bit older and stronger, he'll be able to jump right over the fence and then we can play together. I like him because, even if he is a little dog, he holds real conversations. He doesn't just yap and yap and yap the way lots of little dogs do. I like it whenever we go walking and I meet a nice sized dog. They are usually very polite. The little dogs are kind of rude. I usually just ignore them, but Spencer is nice. I'd like to know why I am so polite and quiet whenever we go for a walk, but put me behind our fence -- even though I can see out and I can recognize people I see every day -- and I turn into one of those yappers. It is SO humiliating! Next time you see a turtle, tell them to tell the babies to stick to ruts and where the drain pipes are so they can traverse places more safely. Big HUG to you and Cody.