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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Tortoise and the Hare

This is the time of year when all the wildlife seems to come out from wherever they were hiding. The day before yesterday, Bow told me there was something going on in the front yard and encouraged me to go outside and look.

From the yard I could see a deer in the pasture. Then it was joined by another, before they both bounded off.

It has been raining a lot. I missed several walks in the past few days after lunch, because it started to rain just when I wanted to go for a walk. Everything is soaked, even the peony.

Yesterday, to make up for the missed walk after lunch, I went out in the late afternoon when the sun was high in the sky, just before dinner time. It was hot and muggy. The air was full of moisture. On the way to the barn, I saw a turtle moving in the distance, so I went to investigate.

Though the turtle had been moving along at a good pace, for a turtle, it stopped dead in its tracks when it saw me approach.

Evasive maneuvers for a turtle seem to be to stay very still. I was lucky that it did not withdraw completely into its shell.

There were tiny little flies and other insects buzzing right in front of the turtle's head, and I wondered whether it wanted to eat them.

My turtle expert friend, Pam Keyes, identified this as a female three-toed box turtle who is rather old -- at least fifty years old, she said, if not older.

The turtle has had some sort of traumatic encounter with a predator in the past, as there are bite marks on her shell.

I wanted to get to know her better, but really what can you say to a turtle to elicit its life story?

I also wanted her to start walking again, so I could get some footage of that, but it was clear that as long as I kept staring at her, the turtle was not going anywhere. So I decided to walk away for a while to give the turtle a chance to get going. My plan was to come back and film her from behind as she walked away, because that seems to be less disruptive for turtles.

As I walked away, in the direction of the lagoon and the peony, a rabbit caught my eye.

The evasive maneuver of the rabbit is to sit still until you approach a little closer, then to lead you on a merry chase.

The rabbit loves to run in zigzags to try to confuse its pursuer. After it had led me all around a pine tree and zig-zagged across the lawn, it went straight to the fence-line. I decided not to pursue any further, and just go back to check on the turtle's progress. But when I returned to the spot, the turtle was long gone. That fifty year old female box turtle  had taken a lot less time than the rabbit to move on. This reminded me of the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare.


  1. I spotted a domestric rabbit when I was riding home on the trail today. Someone laughed that I took its picture, but I honestly do not care. It was a cute rabbit, and I wanted to take its picture.

    1. Hi, Julia. I think all rabbits are interesting, both wild and domesticated. I don't know why anyone would find it funny that you wanted to take a photo of the rabbit.