In the front yard is a very generous flower garden. It backs up to the house with one open side. We never use chemicals or insecticide so it's perfect for Momma Turtle, Big Turtle and Brown eyes, my three box turtles, to have time in the sun. Even Frankie (50 pounds ago) has enjoyed a turn around the garden. I have thus called it the turtle garden for years.
With my bare hands I cleaned out leaves and debris, dug up weeds, and turned the soil of the Turtle Garden rather urgently. Then I went to the front of the house and pulled out five years worth of accumulated leaves that had gathered around all the azalea bushes. For good measure I also dug up the soil around the bushes and while I was at it from the foundation in front of the house.
Still full of panic and energy, I went to Frankie's winter basking area by the garage and dug up the vegetable garden. Yea, Frankie was watching.
I finely stopped long enough to call Greta, my turtle friend, to see if she would like to help dig up my yard. What a great friend. She showed up and re-dug all the areas that I dug up.
While we were at it we decided to dig up both my neighbor's front flower beds...and perimeter of their house, and fences.
We finely surrender our desperate activities right before five o'clock because we both have families to feed. And it was getting dark.
So why did we clean out the neighbor's flower beds and all of my flower beds with our bare hands?
Because Brown Eyes went missing from the front Turtle Garden.
Box turtles are good at several things: hiding, digging, climbing and hiding. No way to accurately predict if Brown Eyes dug deep in the flower bed, or climbed out of the Turtle garden and walked to a neighbors' yard and then dug under. Frankie is a good hider. Box turtles are better. So we dug.
Gretta and I have been digging for five days now. At least we started using garden spades, gloves and galoshes.
So what is the point of this story? Will it have a good outcome? Will it have a sad outcome?
I've taken every bit of turtle knowledge learned over fifteen years and done everything I can to find Brown Eyes. I've dug barehanded not caring that my nails and hands are being brutalized by the Alabama clay dirt. I've abused this bumbling body of mine by crawling (literally) under bushes, lifting heavy objects, creeping on hands and knees, leaning over bushes, and skulking about in the rain. Make lost posters. Talk to neighbors. Wake up at 3:00 a.m. Cry.
That's what turtle owners do: Everything.
There is no peace until the missing is found or, if not found, everything possible is tried to bring them back.
|Turtle Garden with all three girls in sight.|