This morning's weather was exceptional: cool air, clear sky, sunny. Just the break I needed to get some back yard chores done, a chance for the box turtles to spend time in their outside habitat, and perfect for digging up worms for turtles.
Besides my own two box turtles, I am rehabbing a two year old wild box turtle who was chewed up by a dog. Iz, the victim box turtle, is healing well but his back legs don't yet carry weight.
Momma Turtle and Big Turtle (with me for 15+ years) were dropped into their outdoor habitat. The little rehab turtle, Iz, needs some outdoor exercise time so he gets to stay with me. Iz and I head into the yard to dig up worms for all the box turtles.
Not yet mentioned here but a force to be reckoned with is the 100 pound Frankie the sulcata tortoise: this is his backyard. Frankie often sleeps in late and I hoped he would be still be sleeping when I am dig up worms. Regretfully, Frankie too is enjoying the cool morning and is basking by the fence near the area I was going to dig up worms.
Oh, well. I can handle Frankie...... (Haven't I said that before?)
I head to the fence looking for an area away from Frankie, With a small container, hand trowel, hand tiller and Iz the turtle in a box, I select an area where soil has built up by the fence, and a little distance from the basking Frankie. The worms love the deep soil and Frankie will be occupied with basking.
Iz is placed on the ground next to where I am sitting. Iz get's busy scamping around while I dig for worms all the while keeping peripheral vision on Frankie.
Frankie's been eying me, too. I am doing something in his yard so he considers that such activity must be contemplated, investigated, scrutinized, inspected, engaged, entangled, and possibly ultimately destroyed. The minute Frankie picks up his shelled-shelf and starts walking my way I grab Iz and hide him back into the box lest Frankie find him.
Frankie inspects as he approaches the area. He comes across the container full of dirt and worms.
"No, Frankie! No ramming the dirt!"
Too late. With one one step Frankie dumps my container of dirt and worms.
"Frankie! Go do something else. There is nothing for you here."
Frankie stares at me like he doesn't understand English. The voice tone Frankie gets because after a 30 second stare-down he turned around and headed up the hill.
Iz gets placed back on the ground next to my knees and I start picking up dirt and worms Frankie dumped. I take a gander over my shoulder checking to see where Frankie has walk. It's not good. Just as Frankie gets five feet up the hill, he abruptly halts and stands there. Slowly he turns his head back toward me like he's just figured something out.
Uh, oh. Time for Iz and I to move. It's a scramble to pick up Iz, supplies and what worms I've recovered. Iz, supplies and I exit quickly to the left and relocate in another area.
Frankie heads back down to where I have finished digging. Nose to the ground he re-examines the area I just left. Standing in one specific spot Frankie reaches a conclusion and then he poops. He takes another step and pees.
Yep. Frankie has picked up the scent of a turtle: specifically Iz the box turtle. Frankie has peed and poop where Iz was sitting.
I make a prudent decision. Abandoning the current task of digging up worms, Iz gets put back into his box, I pick up the worms and dirt, and we exit. Just in time because Frankie is heading to our more recent location.
In full retreat, I watch as Frankie reaches our abandoned location. Oops, I left the hand trowel. Frankie sniffs the unsuspecting hand trowel. Iz was sitting right there on that spot. Frankie sits on the hand trowel.
"Frankie! That was a new hand trowel!" Frankie thinks it's a turtle.
The exciting discovery of a new turtle scent trumps common sense of what a turtle looks like. It's the scent of a turtle. A turtle that may well be a female. Trowel is a turtle.
After Frankie has smashed my hand trowel into the ground he heads over to his Home Depot orange bucket, mounts, and humps.
Frankie's busy, I think to myself. Maybe I can dig up some more worms. Iz can stay in the container. I retrieve my once concave now flat trowel. Oh, well. It still works. I resume digging while Iz hangs around in his box.
Frankie stops humping in mid-hump. He looks back my way.
In Scent of a Woman at the restaurant, Colonel Frank Sade says "I detect a fragrance in the air." What bouquet has Frankie detected? His favorite perfume: Eau de Tortue.
The Colonel said, "If you make a mistake and get all tangled up, you just tango on."
Tango on Frankie, tango on.