But there's this turtle who's demanding that I tell her story. Right now.
She came to me in 2008 as a yearling, a feisty little thing who was found just hatched in 2007 in a backyard garden on Fifth Street in Marietta.
Box turtles continue to amaze me. People take them out of their homes, find them on roads, figure that their shady backyard in the middle of town is a much better place for the turtle to live than that old woods they were in. People don't understand that box turtles are homebodies, that a suburban backyard is probably the worst place they could choose to "let the turtle go." A few trees and a mown lawn does not a habitat make.
So the turtle wanders, looking for something, anything that it recognizes. And somehow, right in the middle of town, expatriate turtles must find each other, mate, and lay eggs. And somehow this little turtle hatched in a garden.
She was found by a woman who caters food for Marietta College, and the caterer offered her lots of things, but the thing the little hatchling liked best was hard-boiled egg.
Through an article I'd written for the Marietta Times' Natural View supplement, a yearly tabloid-style compendium of natural history pieces in our hometown paper, the caterer found me and offered the little yearling turtle to me to raise.
That's a minimum three-year commitment of care. I took her on, intending to release her when she was big enough not to be eaten by a chipmunk. She'd need to weigh about half a pound, and have a nice hard shell.
In the meantime, the turtlet became friends with Phoebe. Who named her Shelly.
who took her outside for exercise and play.
Her diet improved, to include butternut squash
and earthworms, as well as mealworms and strawberries and melon and Repto-min aquatic turtle sticks, the staple for growing baby turtles quickly and well. Serve them in water, and the Brownian motion makes them look alive.
Three years go by with Shelly eating and growing and sleeping all winter in a cold tank in the basement. There is more to her story. There always is.