Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Turtle Tales

We didn't do much this past Labor Day weekend. For one thing I was on call for the library system and so pretty much tied to the BlackBerry. For another, I aggravated my sciatica moving some stuff around the library as we got ready to reopen the vastly improved College Hill Branch. So we hung out, enjoyed the yard with the dogs, spent time with our dramatically aging Willy cat, and read. I did read a truly wonderful book that comes out next month (I had an advance reader's copy thanks to Jen), Run, by Ann Patchett, those characters are still with me.
I also spent some time watching all the wildlife we have in the backyard, in spite of the dogs that are often running around there.
A few weeks ago Mark found a large turtle, some sort of slider, crossing a busy street in our development. This isn't uncommon, and someone usually helps them cross. Mark will often bring them home and release them in the creek behind our yard. But this time he decided to put him in our pond. It's a very small pond and even much smaller turtles have declined to live there.
That includes Horton and Sneetch, the two turtles Jesse bought when she was in college. She bought them from a guy on the street in Chinatown, saving them from a short life in a Chinese kitchen in NYC. They lived in a small tank in her apartment, but when the school year was over we had to drive up to NY since she heard that they couldn't stand the pressure of an airplane ride, even in the cabin. So we made the drive, bringing Jesse and the turtles back with us to Florida. By the end of the summer, Jesse declined to have them return to the city with her. We decided to dismantle the large saltwater aquarium that once had been Jesse's but long had been Mark's, and make a home for the two cute little guys. And they did thrive and they grew big over the years, too big for even our large tank. We enjoyed living with Horton and Sneetch, but finally, after much anguish, decided to release them to our pond in the backyard. We had let them spend time there under our watch, but once we put them out there for good, they left quickly. One almost immediately, one soon after, and we hope they made it to the creek and thrived.
Since then we have had some other turtles in the pond, found turtles and turtles who found their way there themselves. But none stayed long. There are some fish and frogs and plants to be eaten, but not much room.
So we were very surprised when this large turtle that Mark had rescued stayed and stayed. We watched him and he watched us.
And then, Labor Day weekend. I was relaxing on the swing in the yard with my book, keeping an eye on the visiting Sarah Nichter who tends to jump our fence where we have it low so we can gaze at the creek and the woods beyond. Daisy was roaming the yard too. Suddenly Sarah was excited and alert and letting me know someone was there. And sure enough, the big turtle had left the pond. He was walking across the yard and by the time Sarah had found him he was close to the fence, and close to Brushy Creek. I got Mark out there, we said goodbye to the turtle (it was the first time I'd actually seen him whole, mostly just his head, a leg, part of his back, in the pond), opened the gate and watched him take his freedom in the creek. Daisy and Sarah, and Mark and I, were very happy for him. Unless he meets a gator, this guy is big enough to survive and thrive in the creek.

Daisy meets the turtle.

Daisy and Sarah forget about the turtle, they are just happy being dogs in a yard.

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