Saturday, July 29, 2006

Cucumbers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Pancakes

We I was a young teen, I frequently babysat for a charming little boy named Will who had a fascination with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—Rafael, Donatello, Michelangelo, Leonardo, and one I am forgetting at the minute. Give me a break, it has been 15 years. He couldn’t have been older than six and so turtles was pronounced “tur-uls” and I spent many evenings playing “tur-uls” with Will. I remember thinking at the time that turtles made odd super heroes (and now think muscled superhero turtles make particularly strange namesakes for Renaissance artists).

Having a soft spot in my heart for God’s creatures (and having a mama from whom I inherited this love), I grew up being excited about seeing animals. A caterpillar, unusual beetle, new species of bird, or even a non-poisonous snake was a chance for a quick nature lesson from Mama and excitement from us girls.

I can remember one time when we were driving down a semi-busy road in my hometown when we saw a turtle trying to cross the road. Soft hearts to the rescue, my mom turned our minivan around so that we could go back and help him across the road to safety. We were heading back towards the turtle when a big-wheeled pick-up truck veered out of his lane into the lane going the opposite direction just to run over the turtle!

“Girls, don’t look! He got the turtle,” instructed my mother.

Curious and strong headed, I stole a glance at the flattened pinkish pancake where the turtle had been. I was so angry at that truck. Why in the world did he feel the need to veer across the road just to kill a turtle!

So that is a brief history of turtles in my life, which brings me to this past week. Once again, I am having encounters with turtles and this time these creatures are surprising me with their diligence and resolve. Three times this week, we have gone out to the garden and found a turtle eating the cucumbers. Each time, we have moved the offending turtle farther into the woods away from the garden and each time I have been surprised to find her back.

I am fairly certain that it is the same turtle, an ordinary box turtle with a yellow underside and beady cucumber coveting eyes. We have only harvested 1 cucumber from our garden; she has eaten two that were almost fully-grown and countless ones that were just starting. Once full of budding cucumbers, our vines are now bare. I’ve told Joe that the next time we see her, we are putting her in the car and driving her several miles away before releasing her since obviously a trip into the woods on our property is not far enough. And I must admit that if that doesn’t work, I might even be tempted to put her on the other side of Hwy 35 and let her try her luck at coming back then. I love “tur-uls” just as much as the next guy (okay, probably more), but who knew that they could be garden pests! Maybe that poor guy in the pick-up truck was just a frustrated cucumber farmer.

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