Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Walk, Interrupted

Box Turtle Eating Wood Pear
So I've been gradually recovering from my fight with gravity. Although gravity won and I may have a torn meniscus to show for my defiance of her laws, I have been more mobile of late. And since yesterday was so lovely and mild -- hiding mischievously as it does what is to come in a few months -- I decided to risk a walk down the driveway. Aside from a stray deer, or a revengeful Muslim come to look us up, what had I to fear? Nuthin' much, as long I kept my eyes on the road.

So OffIWent, carrying my cane to bat the occasional piece of gravel in a mock game of senile field hockey. Lo and behold, at the first turn, didn't I come upon the wood pear tree. My favorite tree on our driveway. The first to green out, the last to color up and drop its leaves...and this year, laden with fruit.

These pears look like the Asian ones -- those pricey round things in the produce department -- only they're quite a bit smaller. And they're grittier, too. But much, much sweeter. Unlike cultivated pears, they're not taken from the tree while they still feel like hardballs. And you don't have to wrap them in paper to have them ripen. The only problem is that they do ripen so much later than regular pears that one can get impatient waiting for them to drop. They are quite high up, too, so it's not easy to reach them. Especially if one has been threatened with death if one attempts to climb a ladder.

Lucky for me, I'd brought the cane. Whacking a closely growing sapling, I managed to hit the branches of fruit and knock a few off. But once they landed, I could see they were unripe and would have to be cooked to be edible. Searching around for a stray one, hoping perhaps a ripe one had rolled into the draw nearby, I came across a lovely golden fruit. Parked next to it was a hungry box turtle...a terrapin, says the Baron, but you know what I mean.

Let's see: terapins can go on land and water; turtles (as in "Painted Turtles" only in water)...and I forget the ones found only on land...?tortoises?? Anyway, they all have hard carapaces and they eat anything that doesn't move. Sounds like some of my relatives.

If figures that this guy had the only good pear. I left him to it. Tomorrow I shall walk down to see if he's still there and how much of the pear remains. Who knows, perhaps another golden globe will have dropped?

Most definitely, another sweet October day will have melted away by then.


At 9:01 AM, Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

You are right, my dear. Turtles=water, tortoises=land, terrapins=both.

The Eastern Box Turtle. He will eat absolutely anything that can be eaten and is slow enough for him to catch. I have personally witnessesd box turtles eat up a batch of leftover pancakes with butter and maple syrup.

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Wally Ballou said...

And of course, they (Terrapene carolina)happily munch the most poisonous of poison mushrooms.

At 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your love of Fall. It is also my favorite season. Your words pretty much put me there. Such a gift of description.

At 6:11 PM, Blogger erico said...


off-topic, but baron once commented on a post I made, and mentioned that Dympnha is the patron saint of the insane and abused children. He mentioned you would be able to give some more information about this saint.

i wonder whether you might post something about her?

In Christ.

At 9:22 PM, Blogger Headmistress, zookeeper said...

"Can't roll, can swim. Slow and steady, that's him..."

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

A lovely piece of writing here! But what attracted me was the photograph. I'll explain.

The Eastern Box Turtle and I are best buddies. Don't ask me why...but hand me a closed-up turtle and within less than 15 seconds, he or she will come right out and nearly go nose to nose with me.

Years ago, my father witnessed a female box turtle deposit her eggs in a freshly disked furrow of our garden. We left that spot alone for two seasons, but never saw any hatchlings there. However, in another spot on our farmette, we found a very young hatchling. So small as compared to the size of the adult! He/she wouldn't eat or drink, but rather tried to burrow (It was late fall and time to hibernate).

BTW, many box turtles love raw hamburger! For several years running, I had such a young female here--my husband and I named her Paris--and she would return every late spring for her treat. I would keep her for several weeks at a time and would feed her treats: hamburger, fresh tomatoes, berries, etc. Then as the days shortened, Paris would stop eating and disappear for hibernation. Paris stopped coming after several years, and I've often wondered what happened to her.

I could tell many turtle stories, but I won't take up the space here--except to mention that every time I go to the National Zoo and visit the turtle area (Galapagos variety, I think), they will come toward me en masse.

Friends have suspected that there is something in my body odor which attracts turtles.

PS: Take care of that torn meniscus! Recently I discovered the benefits of medical massage, a great technique to supplement healing and physical therapy. My therapist is in Northern Virginia; if you want her name and phone number, contact me through the email address at my blog. In just four sessions she has relieved my bunion pain--which I thought was treatable only by surgery.

PPS: Steinbeck refers to the land tortoise as "the wise old head" in The Grapes of Wrath.


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