I don’t know what the following story says about me but it really doesn’t matter. What I did just popped out of some restless instinct. I acted quickly, without thinking. I did what I felt I should, split second. It was a rescue –not really the heroic sort, like jumping into a lake and pulling a struggling child ashore – but frankly I’m proud of it and would do it again. In fact I did do it again about a week later but on a different road, in the country, with no traffic.
The first time was on Spear Street in Shelburne, and traffic was heavy, when all of a sudden, just ahead, I saw a large turtle, a HUGE turtle, carefully, deliberately but ever so slowly, edging out of the roadside grass. I’d guess that a turtle preparing to cross a busy roadway wouldn’t be thinking about caution – and clearly Mr. (or maybe Ms.) Turtle was expecting the right of way.
I can even imagine the turtle thinking that it was here first, long before the road with all the cars zipping by. And in a way it was – by 220 million years.
I hit the brakes, activated the warning lights, and stepped quickly from my car, waving to all nearby vehicles to stop. I should have taken a selfie: me, walking a turtle across the road in the midst of serious traffic.
I thought about all the folks in their cars, some of whom probably had important business ahead of them. And I wondered why I felt so strongly about getting this turtle out of that busy road.
I considered picking the turtle up and carrying it across, but I’d heard that some turtles snap and I didn’t care to find out if this one was a snapper. So I gave the turtle a slight nudge from behind with my foot. Mistake. Immediately, both front and back feet disappeared into the shell. The head followed and voila, there sat one big turtle shell in the middle of the road. And there sat a lot of impatient drivers anxious to move on.
Perhaps the turtle sensed our predicament because before long out came feet and head again, and the journey across the road resumed. Luckily, neither turtle nor rescuer –me- was run over by an angry driver.
Eventually, this reptile of ancient lineage finally got across the road. I signaled all clear, and fast human life resumed as a slow turtle went on to live another day.
A truck driver passed and leaned out the window. With a broad grin he told me the turtle reminded him of someone in his family. Then he drove on laughing.
Looking back I have quite a few theories about why we all made way for that turtle to cross the road. But as for the turtle –well- I’m pretty sure it just wanted to get to the other side.