September 19, 2020
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Well, I guess the turtle was right, and rain was on the way. If you can’t trust a turtle, the epitome of slow, faithful plodding, who can you trust? Not flighty or flitting, manic or depressive, just one step at a time dependability—that’s the ticket, turtle!
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
A couple of days ago, I looked through a window at the back of our house and spied, trudging across the property in a generally southerly direction, a fine example of Terrapene ornata, otherwise known as an “ornate box turtle.” Better yet known in “these here parts” simply as a turtle because, “ornate” or not, this species of turtle is the only kind I’ve ever seen here. Confirmation came when iNaturalist, a great “app” you can get for your phone to help easily identify all sorts of flora and fauna, nailed this guy as a “North American box turtle sometimes referred to as the western box turtle or ornate box turtle.” Yep. Terrapene ornata.
A little more reading and I’m kinda thinking “this guy” may be a gal and, very likely, no spring chicken. These creatures can easily live for decades. Who knows? This may be the same individual my grandkids saw lumbering across the same terrain almost a year ago. Turtles “all look alike to me,” says me, betraying shocking species-specific prejudice and appalling insensitivity.
Ah, but you can’t expect too much from me. I’m no genealogist, but what I’ve read strongly hints that my Shelburne ancestors were fiercely true to the British crown, and maybe even that some of the bunch who’d made their way to this side of the Pond chose to be “Loyalists” who went to Canada rather than lift a sword or musket against King George III a couple of years after all that fine tea was dumped into Boston Harbor. So I’m tainted. If I could find a statue of me, I’d pull it down in shame.
But the sackcloth and ashes, statuary graffiti and soul-grinding guilt will have to wait for another day. (Maybe Thursday, 2:00 p.m.?) The topic now is turtular weather prognosticating. And, honestly, I’m not sure if the turtle deserves bragging rights or not. From what I’ve read, this kind of turtle is quite fond of rain and tends to be more active after a good reptile-washing downpour (which may wash amphibians, too, but a turtle is not one, I may confidently proclaim as I feel all “woke” now regarding turtles). Obviously, the turtle knows he’s wet after a rain, but what I’m investigating now is whether or not turtles are among the creatures who know instinctively that a frog-washer is coming. I’ve been told by at least one farmer that when he sees turtles out turtling about, he figures rain is likely on the way.
Thus, I say, I guess the turtle was right. If my farmer friend is right. We’ve had, for two sweet days in a row now, at least a little bit of rain each day. Turtles are not the only folks who feel better after rain, and I thank the Lord for it.
Back to our ancestors. Maybe some of them should have thought more about it before they chose to build in what is basically a desert. Still, it’s mostly been a good life here, even if the water’s always been short above ground and is getting a lot sparser below ground. And these days, goodness knows, our ancestors could use a little slack and some appreciation. The kind we’re all, whoever we are, if our “species” is “human,” sure to need ourselves down the line.

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