Driving home from work the other morning I crested a small hill in the road to see a turtle in front of me. I immediately braked and circled round praying to the Goddess that no one would hit him before I got back to pick him up. He was lucky as was I that it was Still early enough on a weekend morning that traffic was really light.

He was shy in front of the media

I picked him up, placed him the floorboard and headed back toward home. I live across from a good sized cemetery and decided that would be the perfect place to leave him.

Driving along with my new passenger, I reflected back on all the other turtles I had rescued in the same fashion. I’ve been doing it as long as I could remember. Pulling over and running out into the road, sometimes in treacherous conditions to snatch up this shelled creature from certain squashed death. I

My Granpa was the first person I knew of, to ever stop on the side of a busy street, highway to run out and rescue some poor tortoise trapped by the shrieking monsters belching filth that would rattle over his precarious position.

My Granma would chastise him, ” Maurice, what if you get hit? What then? All for a Turtle!!” To me it sounded so mean, my Granma yelling at him for saving the turtle. My Granpa felt it important though, and I can remember many a Sunday afternoon drive being punctuated by multiple stops as he raced into the middle of the road and back with his precious cargo.


Sometimes in my child’s mind I thought I saw a cape billowing behind him as he strode with purpose to the creature, gently picked him up and brought him back.



A few times he would be too late, by the time we circled round and he was able to be close enough he would see that the shell was squashed and the turtle already dead. To my granma’s credit she never rubbed that in. Instead she would take his hand as he sat in the drivers seat deflated and tell him that while he may lose a few it was important to remember all the ones he had saved. Placing them far into the wild at the conservation center not far from his house. Or far into the woods off the side of the road if we were traveling.


Once I had my own drivers license I took up the quest, stopping and saving as many turtles as I could. I never really asked my Granpa why he did what he did. I guess to me it fell under the heading of taking care of those who sometimes need assistance or who can’t take care of themselves.

I know that I will always stop for turtles, and in a weird bit of irony, the first few times I did this with the Dragon in the car, he came off with a fairly good impersonation of my granma. Now he has resigned himself to it, I even catch him looking for them sometimes.

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One Response to “Grandfather Tortoise”  

  1. 1 Rod

    I had to chuckle to myself reading this entry. I’ve had many similar experiences rescuing turtles/tortoises from roads, streets, and highways. Like you, I learned from an elder, my great-grandfather, in my case. He never explained WHY it was important. It just seemed to be the right thing to do. I remember in one case, we actually found a turtle that had been struck, but was still alive. It had a 2 inch hole in the top of its shell. We took it home where my great-grandfather covered the hole with a large piece of sheet metal and some type of glue, and released it into his apple orchard. We found the turtle again some 3 years later, still traipsing around wearing his patch.

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