Turtles will hang on until it thunders
Over the last week, I have successfully managed to save three turtles.
I have a soft spot in my heart for turtles, and I will pull over even on a busy interstate to save a turtle from getting hit by a car.
My husband Jason and I saw two pretty good sized turtles on Carter Road this weekend. We immediately pulled the truck over, and I got out in the middle of the road, hoping no other vehicles would come up on us. Picking up the two turtles, I was able to take them to safety across the road near a ditch.
Then a couple of days later, I came across another turtle in my driveway. After a quick rain shower, the creature was trying his hardest to get over to the other side of the pond. I gave him an extra push, and he made it fine.
My love for saving turtles started when I was young. I loved coming across a turtle. I never saw one out in the woods or anything. But living on a country road with a ditch running between the blacktop and the woods, I saw my share of drifters.
If I saw one while riding my bicycle, I would immediately come to a halt. Whether the turtle needed help or not, I would help it across the road.
Some turtles seemed to appreciate it while others came off as aggravated with me. With a grunt or a hiss, they informed me they were not happy with my assistance.
But I would still run home, excited about my good deed.
“I saved a turtle,” I yelled as I came into the kitchen, slamming the screen door. “He was just sitting there, and I picked him up and put him across the road.”
Maw Maw had this theory that every animal in existence would hurt you. And she had some kind of story or fabrication about how somebody got sick or even died because they handled some animal.
“You don’t need to be picking them things up,” she said. “You know what happens if one bites you.”
Honestly, I didn’t know. I was under the impression that most turtles are scared to death of humans. I thought they just snuck back into their shells, but they may hiss a little. I never had one try to bite me before.
“What happens,” I asked, scared of what I would hear.
“They won’t let go of you until it thunders,” she said. “There was a boy down the road. A turtle gotta hold of his finger and didn’t let go of it until it thundered.”
Paw Paw rolled his eyes at me, and I stood there confused. Why would a turtle just hang onto you?
“That don’t make any sense,” I disputed.
Maw Maw assured me it was the gospel. But I always thought it was suspicious how there was always “that boy down the road” who all this stuff happened to.
That same “boy” got electrocuted during a thunder storm for talking on the telephone. He also almost lost his foot after a mound of fire ants attacked him. And I think he’s the same kid who was hospitalized for pneumonia after going out in the winter with his head wet.
But even today when I save a turtle, I think about it grabbing me until it thunders...regardless if it’s true or not.
Paw Paw always told me the only turtle to worry about is a snapping turtle. He said one of those critters would snap your arm off like a wooden broom handle.
I don’t know if that’s true either. The only snapping turtle I have ever seen was a dead one. I just remember that it had a large, warty head with a long tail. But seeing a live snapping turtle in an aquarium, I can see where Paw Paw got his theory. They resemble something from prehistoric times.
Whether or not Maw Maw’s tale is true, I continue to try to save every turtle I see on the roads. I don’t believe I have ever passed one up if I could help it.
I just hope that Maw Maw was wrong. But then again, maybe I should check the weather report before I go on a turtle saving mission again.
Jamie Patterson is a reporter for The Yazoo Herald.