Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Summer of Yes

If this spring has me taught me anything, it's that life really is too short.

So I am embracing that this summer, and declaring it The Summer of Yes.
Less thinking, less rules, less contemplation.
More freedom, more flexibility, more fun.

We were on our way to my parents' at dusk last Friday.
They live in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by quiet woods, lakes, ponds, hills.
As we sped past a Painted turtle tucked into its shell in the middle of the highway, the Lil' Dude begged her Daddy to stop. Too late, we dodged it and flew past.

I told her how it seemed like when I was a little girl, I was always harboring a turtle or two. The perks of growing up in the middle of nowhere. She has already dabbled in some turtle-raising of her own; she mothered a 50-cent piece sized baby Painted turtle last winter named Florence.

RIP, Florence the Machine. You weren't long for this world. We won't forget.

So I told her as we left that turtle in our rearview, we would most definitely stop for the very next one we saw.

And of course we did. The Dad stomped on his brakes, and I sprinted back to the creature holding the Puke Bucket from the car. Car sickness; the struggle is real. I grabbed the turtle, allowed it to pee as they always do when a predator threatens, and stuffed it the bucket. Painted turtles are great pets because they are sweet, lumbersome, docile.

False. This particular Painted wanted to eat my face. Mean ... the remaining five minutes to my parents' seemed like forty as our beloved new pet clawed and hissed and clawed and scraped up my shins and arms as I tried to keep it contained.

The Summer of Yes. Hashtag; parenting.

My Dad always supported my creature-finding habit and this time was no different. He got down the kiddie pool and together he and the Lil' Dude set about arranging the turtle- a boy named Clem by now- in its forced habitat. Home sweet home.

It turned out Clem the boy turtle was mean for a reason- SHE, now renamed Jewel, had eggs to lay.

Oh Mama, I'm so sorry about the little adventure I just forced you to take as labor was imminent. How rude of me!

So we explained to Kid Rock that this particular turtle was not going to be part of her Summer of Yes. She could spend the night in the blue plastic pool, but the next day needed to go to a pond to let nature continue its course. She understood, however sad it made her. Some days I swear her bravery about does me in.

So that's what we did. Drove two miles to the nearest pond and furthest from traffic with Jewel tightly secured in a brown grocery bag. No more bucket turtle management for me. Hell no. I walked with my girl, her hand in mine, and the bag in her other, and we shimmied Jewel out of her cargo hold and she slid on her belly like a penguin directly into the water. Go be a Mommy! We shouted.

When she left, the Lil' Dude made her Papa promise pinky-swear he'd look for other turtles, and hopefully baby ones, for her to adopt since Jewel didn't work out so well.

Imagine our shock when my own Mama called tonight, asking to speak to her granddaughter. She had some news.

"Guess who is back? Jewel."


Sure enough, that Mama turtle hoisted herself approximately 34,987 turtle miles, literally up hill both ways, back to where she was forced to temporarily reside thanks to The Summer of Yes. Two miles in real life. Without getting smashed on the road or eaten alive. She's currently furiously burrowing her nest right in my parents' dirt driveway to lay those eggs. 3 days after she left the premises.

And because we asked with incredulousness in our voices, how do we know it's our turtle?

She's marked- probably forever- with some doggie toenail marks right on the top of her shell. That poor girl is probably permanently terrified of dogs as the Beagle and my Dad's dog batted her around a bit when the Lil' Dude wasn't supervising Jewel's territory.

Now the Great Turtle Watch 2014 is underway, and someone way over here (135 miles) is already preparing to become a mother herself to however many babies a Painted usually produces in a ... what? Litter? Gaggle? Posse? of turtle eggs.

I could easily use this amazing tale to spin an analogy of mothering and sacrifice and resolve to protect our offspring, uphill both ways. But I won't.

Sometimes all it takes is one little Yes.

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