We had a little surprise visitor this morning. Isn’t he handsome?
When I first saw that little reptilian head and the back of his shell poking up in the grass, I was afraid we were getting ready to have to confront a big honkin’ snake, so my “Mama Instincts” kicked in and I hustled both dogs back into the house.
THEN, I went back out to investigate, camera in hand.
SOOOOOOO HAPPY that it was NOT a snake because we had ourselves very a nice little visit.
Our guest told me that he had smelled water, and decided he should check it out. Said the places he and his kinfolk usually count on for a little refreshment had purt’ near dried up, and that things weren’t looking too good for the days ahead. In fact, he doesn’t think it’s ever going to rain again in Texas — or even in the whole world. Turtles are known for being a bit pessimistic.
Naturally I told him he was welcome to stay as long as he wanted and to partake of all the bugs he could find. Even turned the sprinkler on him for a little bit, and he was most appreciative.
I asked if he’d mind posing for a few natural-light outdoor portraits, and he perked right up. Did you know that turtles have egos? Oooohhh. This guy is quite proud of himself. When I told him that I thought he looked particularly intelligent, he said that I was darn right. After all, wasn’t he the one that found the green place with the rain maker thing in it?
When I asked his name, though, he just looked at me. Told me I wouldn’t understand Turtlel-ese, and that I should just pick something that I’d remember because names mean more to humans than they do to turtles.
Have you ever tried to name a turtle? It’s harder than it seems.
When I was about eight years old, I had a little green turtle from Woolworth’s. Pokey lived for a short time in our bathroom in one of those spiral dishes with a stiff plastic palm tree growing up in the middle of it. He was a happy and friendly little guy, until the night he took a bubble bath with my younger brothers. Jim, A desert tortoise, came to our back yard in Midland for several years in a row. Everyone knew his name was Jim because someone had painted J-I-M on his back in big red letters with fingernail polish. We figured it was probably the kid named Jim who lived in the Floyd’s rent house down the block for about a year . . . but wild turtles are not to be owned. That’s why he came to stay at our house.
This guy, however, was DEFINITELY not a Pokey or a Jim but he still needed a name.
He thinks he’s a Gulf Coast Box Turtle. At least no one has told him otherwise, so we nearly decided on Karumbe-Boaska, because it means Turtle-Box in Gujarati and it sounds super cool. We had to look up the word for Box on Google Translator. Don’t ask how we knew the Karumbe part.
In the end we decided to keep things simple and go with Sparky in honor of his intelligence and as a nod to Fourth of July Fireworks — of which there will be none in our neighborhood this year thanks to the drought.
Sparky was less than thrilled to make acquaintance with Lucy, so he announced that he’d be moving along. He is DEFINITELY a Sparky, not a Pokey. Maybe he’ll come back to visit, but he’s not making any promises. But thank you for turning on the rain maker for a bit.