Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why did the turtle cross the road?

Yesterday was a crazy day. In the space of two and a half hours, we needed to do homework (for four), eat dinner, shuttle two of them back and forth to a Girl Scouts meeting and then race to get dressed for a Band Concert. There truly wasn’t a moment to spare, but then we saw Snap.

Just two minutes from home, on the drive between Girl Scouts pick-up and Concert drop-off, we spied Snap already a couple of feet into the road and in the direct path of oncoming traffic. Snap didn’t have his catchy name at that moment. He was simply (according to Luke): “Look at that huge snapping turtle trying to cross the road!” We immediately pulled over, as we have a history in turtle rescue, but we had absolutely no clue what to do.

Snap was indeed huge. I would now describe him as the size of a basketball, and I truly don’t believe that I have seen a turtle that large outside of a zoo or a nature preserve. We’re accustomed to small turtles and we most definitely prefer the friendly ones. Snap was neither small nor friendly.

Thanks to a recent car cleaning, we were left with nothing to use to help us direct Snap to safety. Juliana’s clipboard received an aggressive bite and communicated Snap’s agitation with our rescue efforts. A neighbor stopped and helped us search for side-of-the-road items that would do the trick, but branches and sticks were simply not strong enough to prod him along. With our next event looming, we were beginning to feel the pressure of the moment, but our love of creatures and desire to save this obviously decades old turtle kept us focused on the task at hand. And then, help arrived.

A blue pick-up truck, over-filled with what some might call treasures and others might call trash, pulled over to lend a helping hand. I shouted out: “You don’t happen to have a big shovel on the back of that truck, do you?” And, sure enough, they did.

This was no ordinary shovel. It was a turtle relocation device, if ever there was such a thing. I think I’ve seen something like it at the hardware store during the winter months, but this particular tool was clearly an antique. Made of wood that posed a major threat for splinters, it had a super-size square base and a bar for pushing. After some hissing, combined with full head and neck extension, Snap found himself in the center of this contraption and was transported to safety on the opposite side of the road. Mission accomplished.

We said our goodbyes and hurried on our way, and I was left thinking that this experience was a metaphor for positive living. There are times when we feel flustered and we don’t feel like we have what it takes to make a difference in the world (or in a turtle’s life), but then God sends help to get the job done. Those who are not outfitted with the proper tool belt are sometimes placed in that specific moment to serve as inspiration instead. We don’t know for sure if the couple in the blue truck would have stopped on their own to help the turtle or if they might have otherwise experienced a tragic collision, but what we do know for sure is that we have all been blessed with different gifts and, when we share them with each other, we make the world a better place.

Why did the turtle cross the road? He had a story to tell.