It was the summer of 1984. I was teeny with an even teenier brother and sister. Dad was driving us home from something when he stopped the car suddenly. The three of us, who probably didn’t even know what a seat belt was, went sliding around the back of the station wagon – like three adorable little bumper cars. I peeped up and noticed we were in the middle of the neighborhood, right next to the park and the elementary school. Dad hopped out of the car, picked something up out of the middle of the road and jumped back in with his new treasure. The 3 of us monkeys climbed over all the seats like ravaged animals to see what he was holding. It was a turtle, a beautiful, shiny green box turtle – roaming the suburban streets of Colorado.
When I think back to that moment, I often wonder if I would be able to notice a box turtle in the street. I’d like to say that I can, but I’m sure Darren is more of the box turtle in the middle of the street noticing type.
We brought Mr. Wild Box Turtle home and put him in the back yard, we decided the most logical place for a wild Colorado turtle to live out his life would be over by the garden, in the strawberry patch.
The next 5 years that we lived in that house we never saw the turtle again. But you could never find a strawberry in that patch that didn’t have a turtle bite in it. Mr. Wild Box Turtle always got to them first.
They say that there is no such thing as a wild box turtle living in Colorado. But I always make sure to have a strawberry patch in the back yard & whenever anyone asks why I say… ‘Well, for the wild turtles, of course.’ Duh.
I took a trip over to my favorite local garden nursery today to pick up some strawberry plants and a rhubarb plant. My dad loved Strawberry Rhubarb pie, I do too. It is amazing, the tart of the rhubarb and the sweet of the strawberries in a flaky golden crust, Jiminy Christmas, pure bliss. I read somewhere that you can’t eat the rhubarb stalks like the first year or two because they are toxic, so I’ve never had the guts to eat it since. Yes, you have to eat like 10 pounds of the stuff to get sick, and one little plant isn’t ever going to equate to 10 pounds, no matter how hard I try or how old it is….but still. Totally freaks me out. Call me chicken, I don’t care. I just can’t do it, man.
So, I’ll just grow strawberries for the wild turtles and rhubarb for my dad.
So if you hear of some crazy lady trespassing in the middle of the night creeping through someone’s backyard with a bowl of strawberries whispering ‘here Mr. Wild Box Turtle.’ It’s cool, it’s just me.