Sitting in the back yard with the BFF, listening to a mockingbird in the plum tree, telling stories about our early lives.... Both widowed, we've known each other only five years, so he doesn't know about the turtle who lived under the sofa in my basement in 1965...
"How did he get in there?" asks my puzzled friend.
"I put him there, of course," I respond.
I used to pick up turtles on the road to give to my younger brothers, and sometimes, if I didn't see my family for awhile, and, if the turtle was a sociable little creature--as this one was--I simply kept him with me for an extended visit.
This, by the way, is the same split-level house which featured prominently in my story about the burglar who wasn't there. We had a tiled basement on the lower level, and, since we couldn't afford much furniture, the only thing down there was the old blue couch and matching chair that my mother-in-law had given us, when we rented our first house. This was the piece of furniture that she would never let her son take naps on--"You sleep in beds," she said. "You sit on couches."
The turtle spend most of his time, patrolling the perimeter of the basement, stalking bugs and spiders, but, when I came down and sat on the couch, he would come out to see what I was up to. I could call him, and he would come to me and eat bites of bologna from my fingers. Fortunately, he didn't eat much of that repugnant sandwich item, or my husband would never have tolerated the little bugger. I considered the care and feeding of a box turtle a good use of the nasty meat stuff. I always had to make sure to leave enough of it behind in the fridge, in case my husband took a hankering for a fried bologna sandwich, a delicacy which ranks right up there with fried Spam...
I don't remember what I named my little tame turtle, but he convinced me that even something as primitive as a turtle has intelligence and can be trained.
I fed him cantaloupe, tomatoes, and lettuce, but the bologna was definitely his favorite.
I don't remember how long he lived with us, but, eventually, my husband decided to finish off the basement into a rental apartment, so I turned Herkimer loose outside.
Oh, wow! I remembered his name!
I've heard that turtles can live hundreds of years, so maybe Herkimer and I will cross paths again someday. It all depends on whether he went east to live out his days on the University farm, which bordered our lot--or whether he went west into Cape traffic...
Whichever way he chose to go, I doubt that he found any more bologna.