On the way back from having the children’s hair cut, I stopped the car and backed up. There was a turtle in the middle of the road. I opened the van, and got the kids out to see it, being careful of oncoming traffic that could crest the nearby hill at any moment. A large fuel truck came by, and had to straddle the turtle with its tires, as I was parked on the side of the road. I decided I had to do something. I looked at the thing…dinosaur like in construction. It was scary looking. I did NOT want to touch it.
I have a fear of reptiles and amphibians, from a hallucinogenic fever experience as a child. I do pretty well these days as long as I just have to look and not touch. Let’s just say I don’t go running and screaming in a panic anymore. But the idea of picking up this basketball sized turtle was making my heart race.
I went back to the car and got my telescoping snow brush. I tried to nudge the turtle into motion…no luck.
I went back to the car. Another few cars passed. I sheltered my eyes for fear it would be hit.
I started to talk it out. “There is no reason to be scared of turtles” I reassured my children, safely buckled into their seats. “I am afraid, but I shouldn’t be, this turtle needs my help so it won’t get run over!” After a self-pep talk, and encouragement from my 4 year old son, “You should just do it mom,” I headed out into the middle of the road. I took this quick photo, then had to return the camera to the car. I went back out wearing my bravest, I can do this to set a good example for my children face.
I listened for cars, nothing. Took a few deep breaths, and closed my eyes. When I opened them again, I quickly reached down and grabbed the sides of its shell. The turtle flinched, stretching out its legs and head, including its very sharp claws, which I hadn’t noticed previously. I dropped it. I heard a car coming. I moved back to the car and got inside, breathing heavily trying to calm my adrenaline.
The van that drove past tried to pass between the turtle and my van, leaving more space next to my van. I heard a crack. I looked back and the turtle was on its back. I turned the car on and drove.
I couldn’t bear to go back. Touching a live turtle was bad enough, but one with potential injuries or dead? My fear was too great. I had failed. I had wanted so badly to be able to save it. I came up against the limits of my own mind.
It took me a long time to calm down. And even still, I can’t look at the photo above without fear, disappointment, and failure. The children have tried to console me with words like, “It’s probably fine mom, and will just crawl into the forest.” Or from my 2 year old, “Maybe Daddy can help it when he gets home.” Bless their little hearts.
Why did the turtle cross the road?