Monday, August 17, 2009

Reluctant Hitchhiker

On Saturday afternoon, I was riding along Joplin Road, which goes nearby some big ponds and slow-moving ditches. (It's down below the Chinden H-P complex, for locals who might not be familiar.)

When I came across a turtle sauntering down the side of the road!

It appears to be a painted turtle, with a shell maybe 8 inches long and 6 inches wide.

Most likely it's a wild turtle; I've seen 'em in northern Idaho in Coeur d'Alene Lake, but never in Boise until Saturday. (If they survive the winters in north Idaho, south Idaho would be suitable as well. They are very elusive in the wild; if you get close, they'll usually jump off their sunny rock or log, and head for water.)

I've recently been reading "Yertle the Turtle" - the Dr. Seuss classic - to my granddaughter. And every time, she points to a turtle and says, "Want one!" So I sensed some planetary alignment and unexpected good fortune when I spotted my Boise turtle.

The next 11 miles of my bike ride were challenging, as I rode home one-handed, carrying a squirming turtle in the other. I got some strange expressions from a few passers-by who noticed. (If anybody had asked, I would've told 'em, "I tried bringing him along on a leash, but he just can't keep up!")

I called Mackie up to see what I had found, and put the turtle on the floor. She screamed hysterically and headed for the closest exit. I demonstrated to her that the turtle wouldn't attack her, and 30 seconds later everything was fine.

The turtle spent the weekend in a big wheelbarrow with dry "land" at one end and enough water to submerge in the other. He ate some lettuce and yummy tuna fish. That's not a good life for a turtle; this evening Mackie and I will take him home.

(She met a little garter snake earlier in the year under near-identical circumstances. Strangely, she was more terrified of the turtle than the snake. She doesn't like spiders, and I guess the turtle looks more like a spider.)


bob t said...

Did the turtle make it home OK?

Bikeboy said...

Indeed! It was delayed by a day, but Mackie and I dropped him off at the edge of a big pond with cattails. He energetically disappeared into the underbrush; I bet he's smiling. (Some would describe it more as a "grimace," I s'pose. But us turtle people know better.)

Scott said...

I'd have swerved dramatically into the other lane and yelled at the damned turtle to get off the road. I'm bigger than him, and he's slowing me down.

That IS proper etiquette for the road, isn't it?