Friday, June 5, 2015

turtle's journey

I don't know where the turtle came from. A young woman rushed up carrying the turtle and placed it on someone's dry trim lawn near the sidewalk where I was walking. She ran back to her car which was humming on the far side of the street, traffic whizzing by. Looked like a rescue. The turtle was there not far from my feet, his head and limbs tucked into his shell.

From my view of things, there was the weight of the turtle, his shell not quite a foot in diameter. There was the fact the turtle might not find his way home that didn't involve crossing a street. I didn't know where the closest creek bed wild spot was. I'm a little afraid of big turtles.

From the turtle, there was this weighty patience and trust. He didn't budge until I'd walked maybe half a mile, and he started swinging his head out and scratching with his legs: 'You're going the wrong way.' By then, I was on the edge of a golf course. A low lying central Texas creek perhaps was nestled below. I sat the struggling turtle down on the dryish green, and he looked this way and that. His head was large, his neck powerful, like that of a snapping turtle, but he wore a splash of red, somewhat like the mark on a red strider's face.  His dusty green shell was neither flat nor helmet-like, but somewhere in between.  His eyes were very small and coated or scarred or perhaps membraned. He rotated one way, then the other, paused as though in thought, then set out toward where we had come, hastening back toward the hot afternoon streets. I lifted him up and hurried instead toward the creek, away from the streets, hoping he wouldn't scratch, hoping a golf ball wouldn't land on my head or his shell.

Part of the creek looked more like a ditch, but then I noted a flat, lovely bed of limestone, a thin ribbon of water running, the shade and protection offered by trees. A grackle, shiny and black, walked in and out of the shallow fan of water. I set the turtle down on the stone bed; when his legs reached out, he'd feel water without being submerged. Soon after I stepped aside, his webbed hands, feet and head came out of the shell again. Again he paused.  He hastened to the water, half swimming, half walking. The grackle seemed to be keeping an eye on him, drawing closer as though to watch his progress. They hobnobbed as he passed. The direction the creek was going curved toward the area we'd just left behind, running under the street, hopefully safely toward where the turtle was trying to return.

As the turtle left me and the noisy street and cars behind, heading down the shaded strand of wild creekbed, I felt a rush of release and relief and wonder as the unexpected sharing of paths with a turtle came to a close.

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