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On turtle lore and stupid birthday poems

June 1, 2010

One of my favorite birthday traditions: stupid birthday poems, a la my mother and her sister. A classic from about 15 years ago:

Your eyes are blue, your hair is blonde
don’t drink the water in the pond

and so on.

This year I wrote my own:

I spent my birthday sick and tired
and woozy from cold medicine three years expired

So though I spent my birthday sick on the couch with vintage Sudafed, I also spent it sporting a turtle necklace my husband bought for me to commemorate Gus, a box turtle who used to come calling around my birthday every year.

We always knew him by the markings on his shell – two raised parallel lines, like an 11. Every May he’d show up near the house or in our yard, just in time for my birthday.

Mythical though it sounds, it’s plausible. If you’re interested/boring enough to read about them, like I am, you’ll learn that box turtles generally live within an area no wider than a few football fields or a couple of acres. Our yard was probably in the middle of Gus’s home range, and he would have been emerging from hibernation in April and looking for worms – or, if Gus was a girl (how would I know?) she would have been looking for a place to lay and bury eggs – in May.

Now I’m miles removed from Gus, whom my father says he still sees. But it’s turtle season everywhere, and they’re busy crossing the roads (my aunt and uncle, who just visited for 10 days and met Gus once or twice, joked they’d seen lots of him last week). We always pull over to help them across, always in the direction they’re headed. I pulled over for two on my way to work this morning.

My son has spent much of the past several days walking around with small bouncy ball on his back, under his shirt. “A turtle,” he says proudly. And just in time for my birthday.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. June 1, 2010 1:47 pm

    Happy Birthday! That necklace is so cute!
    Love the poem 😉

  2. June 1, 2010 1:51 pm

    Happy Birthday! I love that you pull over for them and help them cross – So sweet.

  3. June 1, 2010 2:01 pm

    The super ball in the back — priceless. We seriously need a picture of that STAT.

    Happy birthday!

  4. June 1, 2010 2:14 pm

    We watched a turtle cross a busy street in Russellville when we were home last weekend. My sisters and I were so relieved to see him make it the whole way. I didn’t realize that there’s a turtle season!
    Happy Birthday, Leslie! See you soon!!!

  5. June 1, 2010 3:14 pm

    That’s such a great story about Gus! I’m apparently very turtle ignorant, because I didn’t know they stayed in the same place like that or that there was a “turtle season”.

    Happy Birthday…I hope you have a wonderful day!

  6. June 1, 2010 3:27 pm


    Happy birthday to you and your turtle
    As the years continue to fly and hurtle

    well, you try rhyming something with “turtle.” Happy birthday!

  7. June 1, 2010 5:16 pm

    Happy Birthday, Leslie. This is awfully sweet. Box turtles just give me that cute kind of feeling. Especially the ones that remember my birthday.

  8. June 1, 2010 7:35 pm

    That necklace is perfect with that story. Happy Birthday!

  9. June 1, 2010 7:49 pm

    Happy Birthday to you! I’m only sorry you weren’t well enough to really enjoy it. But I love this story. So sweet. My oldest son pretends to be a turtle every night after his bath. It’s really just his excuse to curl up in a ball and have one of us carry him. But we love it.

  10. June 2, 2010 3:09 pm

    “My son has spent much of the past several days walking around with small bouncy ball on his back, under his shirt. “A turtle,” he says proudly. And just in time for my birthday.”

    Pitch perfect! And happy belated birthday. 🙂

  11. June 2, 2010 5:45 pm

    Vintage Sudafed indeed –
    Did you mix in Mustard Seed?
    Stir a potion worth three witches
    To get well without rude hitches?

    As for turtle charms and other
    Gotta love creative mother
    Instincts to distract the mind
    When you’re sickfully inclined.

    There is magic in strong verses
    (Equally in Russian curses)
    Hope your birthday was still swell
    Wishing that you soon are well.

    • June 2, 2010 6:18 pm

      Well, how can I follow BLW?

      Sounds like a special birthday though maybe not in the way we want them to be.

      You paint a lovely picture of turtle season. I loved seeing them on the beaches on the BIg Island. Here in SF, sadly, they’re confined to the aquarium.

      Feel better!

  12. deb permalink
    March 18, 2011 10:58 pm

    my squareback VW in the 70’s picked up a turtle crossing the road, drove to Ct. from central NY and back and delivered the critter to a friend that had a turtle sanctuary. bet he traveled more than most!


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