My friend Mary sent me this photo last week. This turtle came to say hi to her at work. She said it was most likely nesting and laying eggs. A few hours later, the turtle was gone, and there was no sign of any eggs.
I asked her if I could use this photo. First, because it’s just an awesome photo. I mean, look at those eyes! And the size of those claws and feet! I’d hate to tussle with those.
The other reason I wanted to use Mary’s photo is because it reminds me of a story I’d nearly forgotten; one of those funny family tales that I’m sure will be passed down to several generations. Just for the record, I’ve decided to put it here on the blog so there’s no distant-memory-recall-defect.
This is the true story of
I bought my house in September, 2009 and moved in a month later. The yards were overgrown with dried grass, sprawling juniper, and faded, dried branches. During one cleaning excursion I found near the side of the front yard, a pit. It was carved into the ground, and covered with two pieces of wood that had been haphazardly nailed together.
It was a long trench. Nearly three feet long, and a foot deep. It was pretty creepy. And looked as though it could have gone farther. What was its purpose? I’d heard rumors that the previous owner, a fellow cat lover, buried her deceased felines throughout the property. [Don’t worry, this hasn’t been proven… although there are some questionable lumps in the back yard.]
Prior to actually moving in, it didn’t take long for me to hire someone to come in and remove all the dead shrubbery around the house, rake up the dead grass, and fill that ridiculously creepy hole in the ground. [Note to self: in a future blog, explain exactly why creepy yard holes are, well, so creepy.]
It took a few days, but the yard turned out nice. Level. Clean. And filled. I was happy. Dot was happy.
And then it happened. I had some friends over. Neighbors were taking a walk. And since my friend’s husband was close to the driveway, they smiled and waved. He smiled and waved back. And they asked him
“Have you seen the turtle yet?”
What can I say? I’ve never seen him. There was no evidence that he’d been around recently. At all. Except, perhaps, they thought he lived under the wood. And only came out about once a year. Which is, research has proven, very typical of the Federally-protected Desert Tortoise.
That is, until This Girl unwittingly had its home brought down upon it. Never to be seen again. Imagine my angst and horror at learning what I’d possibly been responsible for. But, no. It couldn’t be. Because we never saw a trace of the turtle. Not a clue, not a claw, not a foot, not a paw. No residue or tracks or meal scraps or anything.
It’s a safe bet that the turtle had already left the confines of the property, months before I even knew the house existed. After all, there were caretakers and realtors and property people who took care of everything long before I got here.
And if they knew about the cat bones, surely they’d also know about the Federally-protected Desert Tortoise and remove it to a safer location for its own good.
Surely, I can’t be, what my daughter has often called out, a Turtle Murderer.
I prefer to ignore that supposition, and to believe instead, in the lack of other evidence, that he is somewhere else. Healthy. Happy. And
And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!