Friday, September 9, 2011

Not Writing--Saving Wildlife

Not satisfied to let me write with impunity, the grand lady Fate delayed me through one of the most effective means necessary: my soft spot for animals.

I was rushing home from a workout, ready for a quick shower and then a good hour or two revising my novel before I had to pick up the kids from school, when what should I, smack dab in the MIDDLE of the road, but a tortoise. And not just a little tortoise, the cute, shiny kind that a five-year-old might put in a shoe box and feed a bit of lettuce now and then.

This was a TORTOISE, with a shell 14 inches wide (that's 35.5 cm, for all of you metric people), a rough, dirty shell, and crusted mud on his shell and head. Here he is:

Only this tortoise wasn't sitting comfortably in a bed of grass as you see here. No, like I said, the goofball was in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. And he wasn't moving particularly fast OFF that road, either. Nor was he really crossing it, since he was pointed directly down the road. I suppose he assumed the road had been built for him, so he thought he'd just saunter down the middle of it, taking his sweet time to get wherever he was going.

I, however, have seen far too much roadkill to be satisfied with allowing him to learn his lesson the hard way. I parked the car on the side of the road, and went to retrieve him from his certain demise.

Naturally, he tucked his head and limbs inside his protective shell. What I wasn't prepared for was his throaty hissing. I stepped back a bit, and decided to pick him up facing the tail end (hoping tortoises didn't use defecation as a defense if someone picked them up). That dude was heavy, too! And the ungrateful thing hissed the whole journey, spitting at me like a cat, even kicking out his back legs to try to scratch my arms along the way (he missed).

I set him in the longest grass I could find, at least 15 yards from the road, pointing him towards the woods. He hissed at me again for good measure, just to make sure I knew who was boss. I laughed at him, then ran to get my camera so I could take the picture of him. It took me a good half and hour to find the camera, and he'd moved a good 8 inches by the time I returned. Just as I snapped the picture, a truck with a roaring engine and a king cab truck raced along the road, running over the very spot the tortoise had vacated.

I snapped a few other pictures, then crouched down to say goodbye.

The tortoise greeted me with one more nasty hiss.

"You're welcome," I said.

So there it is. No writing for me. I'd wasted an hour away--most of it spent finding my stupid camera--so I contented myself with unloading the dishes and vacuuming before picking up the kids. I have plans to write today, however, so long as I have no more wild, ungrateful lives to save from death.


  1. Here's an armored critter, living indefinitely in the slow lane, trying innocently to commit suicide the only way he knows how and some busybody just has to butt in!


    You know how I love to play devil's advocate.

  2. I'm glad I wasn't drinking when I read this. I couldn't stop laughing at the visual (and auditory) in my head.

    Too bad he didn't appreciate your sacrifice.