Turtle Gate

It’s been a crazy weekend here in Oklahoma, largely because the neighbor kids found a turtle.

Just a little three-toed box turtle that had been living in the bushes on the side of their house. They came over to show it to me as soon as I went out to water the garden.

“We’re going to keep it!” They told me gleefully.

And it may be a sign of my impending emotional breakdown that I spent the rest of the day and most of the night worrying about the turtle.

See, I didn’t know it was a three-toed box turtle when they shoved it in my face.  I came in, did a little bit of Internet research, figured out what it was, and then read that they don’t do well in captivity because they are picky eaters…which is also why there is a growing concern about them becoming “locally depleted” in Oklahoma.

Now, please understand, I’m an animal lover but not an animal activist…and if I were 7 and 2 like the neighbor kids, I would have wanted to keep the turtle too.  The problem is, I already spend a lot of time worrying whether or not the neighbor kids are being taken care of–I have gently intervened when they were trying to jump on the trampoline (no guard around it by the way) on their BIKES, when they were trying to create some bizarre waterslide with the slip and slide and the trampoline, and when they were trying to climb over the fence into the other neighbor’s yard to play with the “nice” Doberman. These are not children who are well-supervised.

Basically, I figured that, in their care, the poor turtle had the same life expectancy as an ice cream cone.

So, the added stress of worrying about their emotional devastation when they inadvertently killed the turtle and worrying about the turtle himself just about sent me over the edge.

First, I made a few subtle suggestions that they should release the turtle…and that the turtle didn’t want to jump on the trampoline…and that the Doberman next door didn’t want to be friends with the turtle…and so on.

Then, when that didn’t work, I spent a little too much time, in Opie’s opinion, peeking out the window at the kids with the turtle.  But that’s only because he didn’t realize I was just doing recon to see where they were going to keep the turtle when they went in for the night–a large blue bucket.

And I must say that he was fairly unimpressed with my elaborate Turtle Rescue Mission…in fact, he seemed to think it was borderline psychotic.

“It’s supposed to storm tonight,” I told him.  “What we’ll do is wait until the middle of the night, then when it’s raining really hard, sneak over and grab the turtle and just put the bucket on its side.  They’ll think the storm blew it over…they’ll forget about the turtle, the turtle will be safe and–“

“You’re losing it,” he said.

And flat out refused to take part in what he called Turtle-Gate.

Which made it impossible to implement my plan because I don’t really feel comfortable sneaking into the neighbor’s backyard without a lookout.

I mean, I wanted to save the turtle and all but I didn’t want to get arrested to do it.

Or, considering this IS Oklahoma, shot.

So, this morning, I got up bright and early and went out to water the garden again…and just kept staring at that stupid blue bucket.  No one was up over at the neighbors’, as far as I could tell, and the bucket was just sitting there…and I kept debating in my head whether the kids needed this little turtle in their lives, if they would be more devastated if the turtle escaped or if it died, if I had some sort of moral imperative to save a defenseless turtle…

In retrospect, maybe Opie’s right and I do obsess about these things a little too much.

In any case, I finally decided that if no one was up by the time I was finished watering the garden that I could take that as a sign that God wanted me to rescue the turtle.

Which now has all my Christian friends shaking their heads at me…yes, I am well aware that we aren’t supposed to ask God for signs, much less outline the exact sign we’re looking for.  But with the state of the world today, I suspect God has more pressing concerns than my turtle-induced hysteria.  I was trying to save Him some time.

And you know what?

He must have appreciated my efforts because look what was right outside my garden–well away from the well-meaning but dangerous hands of the neighbor kids:

Turtle Gate

In summary,  the turtle is free, I am un-jailed and not shot, Opie is relieved but waiting nervously for my next obsessive freak out, and the neighbor kids are unscathed.  Plus I have new respect for the neighbor kids’ grandmother who said “He must have climbed out of the bucket” with a straight face when they asked her what could have happened.

You can’t ask for much more than that.


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