In October I discovered a box turtle and showed it to my curious son. He pondered the creature and then kissed it. This time of year most box turtles have buried themselves in soft soil and begun to hibernate for the winter. But a few are still searching for a spot to rest. And one of the last turtles of the season was seen making his way laboriously across the road. The box turtle is protected by its hard shell, because unlike many turtles, it can enclose itself completely with its hinged plastron, and the shell protects it well against most predators. However, a turtle is no match for a motorized vehicle. That is why John and I are guilty of making many a U-turn or abrupt stop in the middle of the road for a turtle. We are those crazy people who run between the traffic to save a slow trucking turtle from the oncoming traffic. I hope you are too!
Yesterday, while driving, John saw a crazed man running down the shoulder of the road. John glanced at the man who was pointing to something up ahead. John's eyes traced the man's projection to a turtle in the middle of the road. John swerved to miss the turtle and then turned around. When he approached the turtle again, hoping to stop and assist it across the road, he witnessed a street sweeper swerve out of its way to crush the turtle. John returned only to find a dead turtle on the yellow line. Both John and the man standing on the shoulder, breathlessly froze in disbelief. The truck had the option to miss the turtle or kill it. The old turtle had been so close to a safe hibernation, another winter past, another year, but that driver chose to kill it.
Year after year, I find less and less turtles in the woods. As their habitats diminishes and they are slaughtered on the roads, the turtle population declines. If we want our children's children to witness the timid nature of a turtle poking its head from its shell, we have to be more careful. So please, take care!
- Roslyn Imrie
- I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.