If you’re like me, you’re weary of hearing about all the innocent people who’ve been gunned down by trigger-happy lunatics lately, and you’re sick of following the current presidential campaign that is forcing us to choose between possibly the worst two candidates in our country’s history. So I thought I’d give you a break from those depressing subjects this week and share with you an experience I had recently, one that might provide you with a few laughs at my expense.
I was mowing my grass a few days ago when I noticed a rather large turtle trying to get through the chain link fence that separates my front yard from my back yard. It was clear that the poor thing did not understand the concept of fences and he seemed to have only one strategy to try and negotiate the obstacle — just keep walking into it over and over.
I was concerned for his safety because there was another fence to his right, a house to his left, and a busy street behind him. I was sure that he was trying to get to the woods behind my back yard, but I didn’t like his chances of getting there in one piece given the circuitous route he would have to take and his apparent lack of navigational skills. I decided I had to help him out, but there was a problem.
I really don’t like to touch wild animals. I’m fine with holding and petting dogs and cats that are friendly (they’ve evolved to positively respond to contact with humans), but wild animals are a different story. They generally react badly when you try to touch them or pick them up, and you’re liable to get bitten, scratched, or peed on, none of which is my idea of a good time.
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This was just a turtle though — didn’t they pull their head and legs inside their shell when they feel threatened? It seemed like it should be relatively safe to pick up and move a turtle in-the-shell, so I turned off the mower and walked around to where he was hard at work with his futile efforts to breach the fence.
Things went wrong right away. As soon as I touched his shell, he started to flail his arms and legs vigorously. That was exactly the opposite of what I’d expected, and he appeared to have sharp little toenails and a decent arm and leg reach. Getting scratched seemed like a definite possibility, and his manic limb-flailing just made me nervous.
I did not want to try and touch this agitated creature, but I didn’t want to leave him there either. So I decided that I would have to find another way to transport him. The flat shovel in the nearby tool shed seemed like just the thing.
It took some doing, as he did his best to escape, but I managed to get the shovel under him and lift him a few feet off the ground. A new problem quickly became apparent — he did not like the sensation of “flying” and he was doing his best to get off that shovel.
I had to angle the shovel to about 75 degrees to keep him from walking off of it, an angle that was just short of tipping him over backwards. I started walking the 50 feet through my back yard, trying to get him to the woods without him falling off and possibly injuring himself. Several times I thought he would tumble off, but somehow I managed to keep him on the thing as I made my way to the back gate.
I’m sure I looked ridiculous, and I kind of wish someone had filmed that rescue operation as it would have been good for a laugh. Ridiculous as it was though, the mission was successful, and I felt a sense of fulfillment as I watched him scamper off into the brush when I laid the shovel down and set him free.
Just for a moment I forgot about all the bad things going on in the world and savored the enjoyment one gets from doing a good turn for another of God’s creatures. But I could only pause for a moment — there was still grass to be cut and a thousand other things I needed to be doing.
Bill Ferguson is a resident of Warner Robins. Readers can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.