Monday, September 22, 2008

First Day of Fall and an Introduction to Lucy the Turtle

When I moved into my house about fifteen years ago, Renee made this card for me and also got me a rake as a housewarming present. She said something about using the rake to keep the turtles in line (...and that was when the twins were just a couple ounces of turtle!). The twins have always been bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. But my first turtle Lucy... he was a very, very good friend and I miss him. He passed away many years ago very suddenly. My vet suspected a tumor so there really wasn't anything we could have done, just one of those sad things. 

At the pet store where I got Lucy, they said Lucy was a girl, but he turned out to be a boy. And by the time I figured that out, poor Lucy was already stuck with that name. Made my vet crazy, that name. I remember another vet in the office was admiring Lucy and had him on his lap and kept telling him "You're so pretty, you're so pretty." I updated Dr. R and told him Lucy was a boy. He paused a second or two and then went right back to his "You're so pretty, you're so pretty." Ha ha ha. 

Lucy liked me, really liked me. He liked the cats (used to crawl in the yarn basket in the closet and sleep with them). But he adored Meg. When I brought him to work he would spend the day in her cubicle with her. 

He also liked to go for walks. When I lived in an apartment, I would let Lucy out of his tank to get some exercise. I remember one Saturday he came into the kitchen while I was doing dishes, circled my feet, made sure he stomped on them, left the kitchen, went to the front door, rammed it for about five minutes and then returned to walk a circle around me. He did this maybe 7 times over a period of an hour until Duh, I figured out what he was trying to communicate. He wanted to go for a walk outdoors. And that is what we would do whenever he would repeat this behavior of asking to go out. 

When we were at the park, I'd work on  a crossword puzzle while keeping an eye out for Lucy while he walked around in the grass. Lucy would  hide behind a tree and stick his head out as far as it would go and I would point to him and say "I see you!" and then he would pull it back in. He would hide in depressions in the grass and up periscope his head and I would do the same thing. "I see you!" He'd pull his head in and then go find another area to hide and see if I was still watching him. When he wanted to go home, he would come find me, start pushing on me and then we would walk home.

This might seem like an odd thing, walking a turtle in a park, but I was not the only one who did this. I heard there was a turtle walking man who sometimes took his turtle to the same area for exercise. And I once talked to a woman in San Diego (I think there is a turtle walking club that meets at the zoo there) who crocheted harnesses for turtles so they couldn't get away. Turtles can get away fast if you don't keep an eye on them every single minute.

When I got the twins a couple years later, I'd take them to the park too. Unlike Lucy, when they were out, they would run as fast as they could to get away from me and most of the time, up a hill toward traffic. Difficult now, just as difficult then. One time I lost Michael Ray in the park. I turned away for just a second and he was gone. I searched and searched and had to go home and call my friend Mary to bring her dog and some rakes, we needed to find a lost turtle. I eventually did find Michael Ray not long after Mary and Butch arrived. Michael was on a bluff of sorts with an excellent view of two women raking furiously not ten feet away from him with one confused dog. Errrrgh. I think that's another reason why Renee chose a rake as a gift. It's a needed thing for both maintaining a house and a turtle.


Mental P Mama said...

I am completely fascinated by all this. I had no idea that there were turtles like this, and their devoted humans! I love every story. And I'm sorry about Lucy. Are these like turtles you find in the wild? That live a long time? I hope so;)

The Weaver of Grass said...

I also had no idea youcould make a real relationship with a turtle!

Maria said...

MP Mama-Lucy was a wild caught African hingeback tortoise. The twins are captive bred African Leopard tortoises that were hatched in Chicago in 1991. They will probably live another 50 years....or more. I'm not sure whether to be happy or nervous about that. :-)

Weaver-I'm looking forward to writing more about Lucy because he definitely had a great personality. I had no idea just how much of a character he was until he came to live with me. One of the things I liked about him was that if he saw me in the backyard (he would spend his summers in the backyard too), he would come out from wherever he was hiding as if to say hello, and then return to the spot he had just left. He had manners and was a fun little friend to have around.

Country Girl said...

I, too, find myself so interested in the turtle relationship. So amazing that Lucy actually asked to go on walks. This is incredible! I am learning something new every day I come here.

Maria said...

I'm glad you guys like the turtle stories because it's been fun for me remembering Lucy the turtle. I was hoping he'd be the pet that would be with me through my advanced old lady years. I considered him a good friend, even if he was a turtle.