Box Turtles

I’ve done some pretty dumb things in my life. What amazes me is I continue to do them.

In the area where I live we have what are called Box turtles. If you haven’t encountered one of the adorable little turtles, you’ve missed a great experience- in my humble opinion.

In the spring and summer they migrate from one location to another. This means they eventually cross roads and highways. Some fools see them as a small lump of garbage and make no effort to bypass them. One of the saddest sights to me is a box turtle on the side of the road, killed inches from the grassy side of a highway. When in high school, east Texas was full of these little creatures. In a five mile drive one could pass twenty-fine to thirty turtles on the road. A lot of people slowed down and swerved. A lot didn’t.

So, at seventeen, I made it my goal to save as many of these little harmless travelers as I could. I still do today. It was only a month ago I was returning home from the store and passed a Box turtle on the center stripe between a two-lane highway. Heaven forbid! I immediately pulled off the road, bailed out of the car and ran back to the little turtle. I had just grabbed it and took one step toward the side of the road when I heard the sound of cars coming. Oh My Gosh! Must hurry!

Now, you have to understand, I have done this for years without a mishap. But, never wearing flip-flops. I made it to the edge of the road. The shoe of one foot hung in the grass while the other slipped on the blacktopped road. I think they call it a double-back-flip. Landed and rolled, stopping flat of my back, the turtle in my right hand held up in the air. His head was out of his shell and his little legs were “swimming”. No doubt he’s thinking, this stupid human!

By the time I stood up, there was a line of some six cars and trucks in the lane going south and a few more in the lane going north. People were gasping, mouths hanging open like they had just seen a flying pig. (Maybe they did! I’ve been meaning to shed a few pounds.) Barefooted I limped away from the road and gently placed the turtle down. He or she wasted no time taking off for parts unknown.

My knees were skinned, elbows the same, chin was bruised, grass embedded in my hair and the palm of my left hand still carried small pebbles from the edge of the road. I picked up the stupid flip-flops and headed back to the car. As I sat down, the cars had again continued wherever they were initially going. I thought about what had happened…and I started to laugh.  And I laughed until the tears flowed. What a picture I must have made, tumbling across an embankment with a turtle in one hand and shoes flying in all directions. What a stupid thing to do in the center of a highway.  BUT… one little Box turtle would live to rule another day. For that, it was worth it.

I’m certainly not telling anyone to pull a tumbling act on a highway or put yourself in danger trying to save a little harmless creature. But avoid hitting them when you can and do NOT wear flip-flops to any rescue!

And if you happen to see one in your yard, offer it a bite of cantaloupe! It will thank you for it!


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