Frankie has been bothering me quite a lot about taking The Big Walk.
Last week Frankie was quite clear when he pushed though the gate and headed down the street by himself that it was quite time for A Big Walk. Lucky for me Camden, a very alert young neighbor, saw Frankie as he walked alone down my driveway and knew he shouldn't be walking without clear permission from mom.
Young Camden came up to my door and pointed out that Frankie was on the march down the street. It's a big hint.
Once I went to a water park and went in to see the killer whale show. I was in tears during the show and not because I enjoyed the showmanship displayed in the show. I was heavy hearted watching a magnificent beast doing parlor tricks. I just hated it.
But then the whale decided he didn't want to play anymore. After ten minutes of trying to get the whale to obey, the trainers announced that the show was cancelled. When a 10,000 pound killer whale doesn't want to play, you can't make him play.
When a 100 pound sulcata tortoise named Frankie wants to take a walk, it's time to take him on a walk.
I've not quite recovered from my chest cold. I can't lift Frankie anymore. I needed some help.
I called Greta who is a friend with a box turtle who wants to go on a Big Walk sometime. Greta is finishing dinner but says that she will catch up with Frankie and me.
Next I ask my nephew Ryan to take the walk with Frankie and me. My nephew has never been on a Big Walk and doesn't know what to expect but I tell him that we can manage. My sister, Kelly, decides she will come along.
To the yard to start the walk! Frankie doesn't need to be told twice and he heads to the gate at a fast trot and heads down the drive way with Ryan, Kelly and me in tow.
Two houses down and our young friend, Camden, peeks out his front door. "Frankie! Where you taking, Frankie?"
"Frankie is going on a walk around the block. Would you like to join us?" Camden disappears into his house to gain parental permission. He reappears just as Frankie walks past his house.
Frankie's entourage has grown to to four persons.
At the bottom of the street a new neighbor who has never met Frankie before stand astonished in their yard. The family of four joins us for half a block as they take photos and ask a dozen questions.
Our little group moves on and a couple of houses later Greta catches up with us.
The navigation of Frankie gets easier as he is surrounded by Ryan, Camden, Kelly, Greta and me. It's like a fully loaded river barage guided through the water by hugging tug boats.
Around the bend and up the hill, we turn on the next street greeted by four elementary age kids who line up at the edge of their yard, jaws wide open. One of the kids whispers to the others, "Tortuga". The rest of the kidos still don't move.
I interpret their reluctance to move a muscle at the sign of the large tortoise, "This is Frankie. He is not a snapping turtle, he is a tortoise. He doesn't bite. He is a vegetarian. It doesn't eat children." The children break out in smiles.
Frankie moves on down the hill carefully supervised by Ryan who looks for cars, Greta and I who clear tempting food looking items from the path, Camden who is learning all the answers to the top ten Frankie questions, and at the perfect pace for a physically challenged sister who can only walk slow.
Around to the next busy street a dozen cars pass safely by...most which slowed to a snails pace so to gape at the large turtle accompanied by near a half dozen walkers.
When we get near the end of the walk at the bottom of a very steep hill, the power of the group comes into play. Sulcata love to walk but they really like to walk in more or less a straight line. Corners and turns are very challenging for an animal who fixes direction on a single horizon spot.
As Frankie fonders and looses his forward direction, his entourage gathers closer and surrounds him on all sides. Frankie is moving in a pack and walks more confidently up the long hill.
Just as we get to the top of the hill Frankie recognizes his house and picks up the pace. We all see Greg sitting on the front porch with Newt the cat anticipating our return.
At the top of the hill one more neighbor joins the final steps. Our neighbor told his fellow workers that a huge turtle walks around his block and no one believe him. He takes a couple dozen photos with his camera to prove Frankie exists as he walks past his house and in front of home sweet home.
Greg and Newt walk to the driveway to greet the neighborhood travelers. Effortlessly Frankie walks up the driveway and into the back yard.
Frankie's little group grew to a final walking number of six: Frankie, me with Ryan and Kelly, and soon joined by neighbors Camden and Greta.
This walk was one of the easiest walks ever with Frankie. I didn't have to pick him up or fuss along the way. The number of walkers made the Big Walk and Easy Walk.
Sometimes it takes a village.