On my walk this morning, I came upon a tiny turtle, brown and about the size of a silver dollar. At first I thought it was just a dry leaf, and I nearly stepped on it. But I paused to admire its beauty and realized it was a living creature – an eastern snapping turtle, I think.
I feared that by the time her legs carried her halfway across the tarmac, she’d be brunch for an observant osprey or hungry seagull. And, if the birds didn’t gobble her down or feed her to their fledglings, a speeding car or tuned-out runner would squash her for sure.
So, I made one of those split-second decisions… which I now question. Grabbing a tissue from my pocket I lifted tiny turtle into the soft, white folds, and whisked her across the danger zone and onto the grass.
There she was when last I saw her… wondering what the heck had happened, remaining perfectly still, trying to figure out what to do next. For, as Emerson drily observed, “All the thoughts of a turtle are turtle.”
And I, being human, thinking my human thoughts, stumbled on, succumbing to wavelets of guilt with each step: Was my effort to help really a selfish gesture that left tiny turtle in more danger than she’d faced on her own? What led me to think I knew best what should happen next in her life?
Obviously, her dusty-mahogany shell wouldn’t blend in with the blades of emerald grass. Perhaps she was even more likely to be spotted by a predator. Once she caught her breath, did she instinctively pivot and begin the long and dangerous journey back to the boulders on the far side of the road?
Hadn’t I so often read those cautionary tales? – Don’t interfere with the lives of man or beast; don’t assume you know what is best for others – and that includes tiny turtles, missy.
except that the great and cruel mystery of the world,
of which this [the turtle] is a part,
not to be denied…
And so it goes… Nature’s lessons are hard on us all. I’ve been set the task to relearn humility and patience, – perhaps at the expense of my fellow traveler, tiny turtle.