Turtle Power: Part II

What comes from the wild must eventually return to the wild. Nature shall not be tamed. The power of the animal cannot be contained by the illusory strength of plastic walls.

All of these are aphorisms about the intractability of the natural world and its creatures. To be clear, I just made these up. They are, however, particularly apt for my current situation. If you missed the original Turtle Power post, please read it here before you proceed. I don’t like to self-promote, but you need to read that one or this post will make even less sense than my other stories. And to be truthful, half of that last sentence was a lie; self-promotion is pretty much the only thing I really enjoy.

On an oppressively sunny day recently, I was home alone with the menagerie. The boys (ages 2 and 4) were out on their own for the day because we believe in instilling independence at an early age by setting them free to roam the neighborhood at least once a week. They are not allowed to return before sunset and must survive on their own wits and cooler bags filled with juice boxes and butter sandwiches.

Fine, none of that is true. They were out with my wife for several hours because I need at least a couple days a month to sit around by myself and brood and also to mop the floors. In the interlude between brooding and mopping, I took Yertle out of his house and placed him on the ground outside. For the week or so prior I had the suspicion that he was not doing well. He often seemed depressed or dead. I don’t know much about turtle psychology or anything else, but he didn’t seem to be moving around much. And in the several weeks since we found him, there was really no way of knowing if he ever ate anything.

So since the boys weren’t around to pounce on him or cry about not getting their turn at whatever, I thought it would be a good time to investigate the dead versus depressed debate I was having. Hence why I let him out. After I set him on the ground, I watched him for several minutes. He didn’t move at all. Didn’t put his legs down or poke his head out. He just remained in the same frozen position I had found him in. Dead seemed to be the leader in the clubhouse.

Meanwhile, I started mopping, a little sad and disinterested. Let me tell you, when I mop, I really get into it. About ten minutes later, when I was just entering that flow state one can only achieve when performing a task that engages both your body and your soul, I remembered that I should check on Yertle again to see if he was making any progress.

He was gone. I looked around frantically for about 45 seconds or so then gave up. Yertle was gone. I felt a bit sad, but not too much. I knew he was probably better off and would be happier and healthier in the wild. Or something. And I also got really bored with him about two and a half days after we found him. The thing no one tells you about turtles is that they really don’t do anything. I mean, it’s kind of like having a cat, but with only the bad attitude and none of the movement.

The only thing that remains to be seen is how the boys will react. They also completely lost interest in Yertle several weeks ago, but I remain hopeful they will rake me across the coals once they find out what happened. My four year old got upset about an empty toilet paper roll the other day, so I fully expect that he will take this news in stride. Wish me luck.

And to Yertle, if you’re reading this, run free, my friend. Run free.