It’s the season of turtles in motion - here they come, ready to cross the road, and there they are, on the road, even more pancaked than their original form.
Can you imagine what must be going through those turtles’ brains when they begin to make the trek across the hot pavement? I can’t fathom what possesses them to cross the threshold of the white line and out into traffic. They’re turtles on a mission.
They must be going as fast as they can, and yet they inch painfully slowly across the lanes.
I brake for turtles.
I realize that it’s not always safe to swerve for turtles, and I respect the decision of those who spare their cars (and preserve their personal safety) and take the turtle’s track instead. On the other side of the story, I hear about people who aim for turtles on the road, and that’s just mean.
Beyond the swerve, it’s become my goal to move as many turtles as possible off the road and into the ditch on the other side. I don’t know what gets them going, or what plans they have, but I’d like to expedite their journey.
So I gave it a shot not long ago. Driving on a dirt road, I swerved around a turtle hanging out in the road. Bad idea, little fella. There wasn’t much traffic, so I pulled over and approached the turtle. I crouched down. It looked harmless. I tentatively grabbed its sides. It was much heavier than I expected. But it didn’t make any move to bite me, so I picked it up.
I’ve heard that turtles will pee when they’re picked up, but I had no idea the volume or trajectory that turtles are capable of when they feel threatened. That turtle let loose and it was only my cat-like reflexes that saved my pants from being soaked in turtle urine - as it shot out a good two feet.
So be warned! Try to save those turtles, but beware the projectile pee.
While the small painted turtles seem easy to handle and relatively non-threatening (save the pee), snappers are another story. I’ll admit that I’ve not yet come across a snapper still alive that needed to be moved from the road. That will simply be another adventure — with perhaps higher stakes than soaked pants. It will probably require another technique beyond simply picking the turtle up. Let me know if you’ve got advice on the matter.
One last thing: a correction. In my last column about gardening, I inadvertently put myself to a personal genealogy test, which I failed. I’m lucky to have a group of family members who read my column, and I found out a few things about the family history that I didn’t quite have right.
First, it was not my great-grandfather, C. Edward Perkins, who owned the greenhouse in Crosslake, as I stated in my column. It was his son, Lowell Perkins, who was owner.
Second, my distant grandfather (with many “greats” tacked on to the title) who managed royal gardens did not work for a prince, but for the king and queen. I regret the errors, but I will say that I’m glad to know more about the family, both locally and long ago.
And, speaking of gardening, a friend caught two turtles laying eggs in my community garden plot, adding yet another crop to the season. I’m now growing turtles. I can only hope they do as well as the peas.