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The Golden Turtle

Friday, July 8, 2011

Run in the rain and
You'll find the golden turtle
Treasure of treasures.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that for the past year I've been writing a lot of haiku. They're direct outgrowths of the process of running. I'll have been running a year on July 30. I run 7 days a week, weather and travel permitting. I'm on my third pair of running shoes. I liken the Runner's Haikus to work songs. They take my mind off the heat and humidity, off the deerflies and the weight of my body as I force it up the hills and down the hollers.

 There are rewards for the running. This morning as the rain dripped off my hat brim and soaked my shoes I found The Golden Turtle, an old female who's weathered some hardship. All the toes but one are gone from her hind feet, probably courtesy of a short-tailed shrew while she was hibernating. Shrews do worse than that; she was lucky her head and front feet were tucked in.

This calls into question her viability as a breeder. Could she dig a proper nest with soft stubs for feet, without claws? I don't know. I suppose if she found soft sand or very wet soil, she might be able to dig a nest of sorts.

Damn shrews.

I don't like to pick up or move turtles unless I have to, to get them out of harm's way.  It seems disrespectful. So these photos aren't the best, but they're the best I could get without disturbing her unduly.  In this photo you can see her eye, a dull red, hallmark of an older female. 

I left her there by our driveway, and when I came back she was gone. Soft soil and shrewless winters to you, dear Golden Turtle.


Turtles can manage amazing feats of digging with what would seem to be substandard digging equipment. My advisor, Roger Wood told me about watching a three legged diamondback terrapin digging her nest. She would make a scoop with her good foot, withdraw it, wave the stump around in the hole, withdraw, put the good foot back in and so forth.

That's hibernating hard.

Thanks for that, Boneman. I appreciate knowing she has a chance of digging a nest.

Murr, yeah, it's like, I woke up in a bathtub full of ice and my liver was gone...

I know this sounds silly but, I had no idea that turtles hibernated. I really never gave it much though before. Learn something new every day! Thanks!

How beautiful is she!

See, I was in full poetic mode -- then read your reply to Murr's comment. Poetry followed my shriek out the window.

Ahhh- catching up on older posts. Such fun, and this one in particular just hit the spot. I've never seen this turtle and she is gorgeous! Glad to hear she is the type to just keep digging, even sans toes.

(And hi, Bruce! You helped me ID a baby snapping turtle a few summers back. You rock.)

One full year as a runner, Julie! That was quick. What a slacker I am :)

Love the photos. the haiku--and the comments!

You might only be interested in creating haiku about what you run across, but if you're at all interested in creating them via prompts (such as "pillbugs" or "octopuses"), come visit my blog on a Friday. I'd love to see another haikuoligist there! You can find me at

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