Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How many turtles does it take to creep you out?

It’s just a little bridge, connecting the walking path I follow along the river several days each week. It spans a good-sized creek flowing into the 'hooch, just the other side of Roswell Road – that would be a main thoroughfare for those of you not familiar with the Land of Cotton.

Bits of debris – tree trunks and limbs, rocks and other such stuff – rise up out of the murky water that puddles into a lazy cove before spilling into the river. A blink of the eye ago – weeks, months, whatever – I spotted a few joggers who were leaning out over the bridge, pointing at something in the water. As I drew closer, I noticed what appeared to be, well, a turtle atop one of the logs, sunning itself in the morning light.

As the turtle enjoyed its perch, a second turtle – perhaps its mate – swam lazily in circles around the log, idly lapping its way through the day. Neither turtle seemed to be in a rush. This was their work and play, perhaps their mission in life.

I’ve passed this way often in the last few months, making a point to glance over the bridge, down into the nearby murky water. And as often as not, my turtle friend – or one of its relatives or mates, is sunning itself on an exposed rock or rotting tree trunk.

And so it was yesterday morning, as I glanced about on my morning walk. High atop a fallen tree branch, half submerged in the middle of the creek, a hefty turtle – at least two feet or so in circumference – sat smugly sunning itself, its neck stretched out in regal repose.

Just a few inches lower on the branch was another turtle and I smiled at this modest scene of nature, thinking briefly that there are probably people somewhere paying good money at a zoo to witness a similar tableau.

Then something caught my attention – a shadow, perhaps a falling leaf – and I looked slightly to the left and there, yes, was another turtle resting on another limb. Wow, it seemed I had stumbled into Turtle Town!

Have you ever been looking at something, thinking you know exactly what you're seeing and then, bit by bit you start picking up additional images and shapes? That’s pretty much what happened over the next moment or two – and, no, I wasn't having some sort of '60s flashback.

First there was one turtle, then two, then three, then, well, at least 22 at last count – all quietly sunning themselves on fallen branches and rocks. They were big and small, but all seemed to be of the genus Terrapene – that would be your basic box turtle.

One turtle is cute, two even cuter. But a whole bunch of them all gathered together becomes a little creepy. I felt for just an instant that I had stumbled into some sort of alternative universe and I was the star in a new Alfred Hitchcock thriller – THE TURTLES!

The moment passed but the ick factor has remained. All those turtles, bug-eyed and long of neck, sunning their glossy shells and snoozing through the day. Might be time to find a new route along the river or, better yet, open up a kiosk specializing in – that’s right, you know what’s coming – turtle soup!

1 comment:

  1. Not too far down the road, you have Sandy Springs, a municipality famous for its turtles. Perhaps some of them were escapees.