Boyz in the Hood: Turtles Are a Loyal Fan Base
I can always rely on the “boyz” to anticipate my visits every morning. During the summer season, anyway. They usually arrive sometime around the end of spring. They don't come all at once, though. They just trickle in, one or two here and a few individuals there and before I know it, there is a whole brood of them. So, I think it is appropriate that I named the bunch "Boyz in the Hood."
They habitat and multiply at our pond during the hot “Dog Days of Summer” and can most often be spotted sunning on a tree log or along the banks of the pond. They really are a sight to behold as each has their own distinct personality and behaves quite independently with a possessive air about them while at the same time, acting fearful of...well, I’m not quite sure what. If I were to guess, I’d say that they're afraid of the other “Boyz in the Hood”... the crows. It just so happens they dine here as well but that is a tale for another time.
Here She Comes
As I was saying and as you can see from the preceding photo, they do actually anticipate my visits every morning. In fact, it has become our daily ritual. I’m not so naive as to think it’s actually me that they want to see. After all, these are the best-fed boys for miles around. The menu changes daily and consists mainly of leftovers. Sometimes even leftovers of the leftovers or maybe some food that is about to reach an expiration date to soon be discarded. Never-the-less, in the boys’ eyes, the menu is always a culinary delight.
In the beginning, I counted close to fifty little heads poking up out of the water before I lost count and gave up. What comes to mind is the old childhood game of “Connect the Dots." As I begin to disperse today’s menu across the ground, one by one they cautiously leave the safety of the pond and slowly approach the food. Their necks are completely outstretched (about an inch or so) and straining up toward the sky. It’s almost like they're afraid a big old bolt of lightning is about to come down and strike them where they stand. As each turtle makes their way to the food, they will grab the closest morsel they come upon and then turn around and scurry as fast as they can back to the pond with food in snout. Look out to any turtles that happen to be in the way. I mean to tell you, these critters can beat feet. I never knew turtles could move so fast.
One of the things I find so amusing is that there will be plenty of food everywhere, yet a cluster of them will zero in and scramble for the same morsel and literally climb atop and over each other to be the victor. One time, I bore witness to a sore loser biting the victor on his neck and as the morsel of food is falling out of the victim’s snout, the biter snatches it up and away before it can even hit the ground then scurries back to the pond with his ill-gained treat. All the while another morsel was closer and even bigger than the one he just confiscated. This is the short-sightedness I made reference to earlier.
On one occasion, while two of them were bickering, a tiny baby fellow that had hopelessly tried to keep up, sneaked right on up and grabbed the temporarily forgotten morsel and raced back to the pond to enjoy his unexpected prize in solitude.
Now and then, I might be running late in getting down there and in their impatience, one or two out of the brood will either be elected or take it upon themselves to start the trek up to the house to investigate what is causing such a delay. Once they see me approach though, they turn back around and hurry back to the rest to await the tossing of brunch as it were on that particular day due to the timing of delivery.
I remember another time when spaghetti was the deal of the day. Now I must say if you have never seen a turtle eat spaghetti, you are missing out. It is a hysterical sight to watch. Picture this if you will...You have this tiny little head poking out from under this shell and after grabbing as big a chunk as he can carry, he shuffles back as fast as he can with several strands of long, lumbering pasta dragging along the ground on each side of his snout. Multiply that by 50 or so and it is quite a comical performance.
As August has already arrived and we approach the halfway mark on the calendar, I realize that our time together grows shorter with each passing day as do the days themselves. I don't want to think of them leaving just yet, so I push the thought away.. Soon enough, I will have to face their inevitable departure.
Then just before autumn, one by one they disappear until one day as I approach on one of my daily visits, I find myself all alone. No one there to greet me. It always leaves me with a melancholy feeling, sad that I won’t see my buddies again until next year. Perhaps, thoughts about the approaching winter with shorter days and longer, colder nights also contribute to this lonely, melancholy feeling I get further igniting brooding emotions. I can’t help but wonder where the little critters escape to and what they do during their time away at this unknown winter destination. I can, however, find solace with the knowledge that they'll be back around Springtime whereas, after a few days of getting reacquainted, we will pick up our “daily ritual” right where we left off the last time they found residence here.
Slowly Starting to Dwindle
Well, as the end of my tale of turtles also approaches, it is my sincere hope that you have been enlightened maybe even delighted into this peek of a day in the life of my “Boyz in the Hood”. If you happen to find this article of any interest, keep a watchful eye out for a sequel. I may write one titled “Boyz in the Hood Part II". However, this one will involve the species of "Crow".