Saving the World, One Box Turtle at a Time

Rain swept in this morning like unkempt cousins from out of state staying at your place for the weekend. A real gullywasher, filling creeks and overflowing gutters and battering the streets like a particularly nasty Evander Holyfield combination.

And it was a run day.

I’m past the point of rationality with my runs: I love running so much that not only is rain not a deterrent; in the right season it’s actually an incentive. Short of active lightning or sub-freezing temperatures, I’m more than happy to lace up in the wind and rain and take a beating from the elements. Makes me feel alive.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one lunatic enough to be out in the squall, though.

I was running my regular route around the mall, picking my path among the parking spaces out back of the J.C. Penney’s, when I ran into a four-legged friend. A little box turtle, about the size of a a half-cantaloupe, parked in the middle of the second clockwise lane with his tiny little neck craning skyward as if drinking in the bounty of the heavens. In a prime run-me-over location.

Luckily, it was three hours before the mall opens for business, so I stumbled upon him first. Knowing that the average motorist around our mall pays about as much attention to his surroundings as a ravenous dog on a bone pays to the color of the wallpaper, it was obvious that I had to get the little monster out of there. So I padded over to his little orange shell and scooped him up — he withdrew head, legs, and tail with a tiny, perturbed hiss; I’m sure he thought he was about to become lunch for some gigantic predator — and spirited him away across the parking lot toward the woods from whence he must have come. (I would have taken a picture, naturally, but seeing as the rain was falling like Donald Trump’s credibility with women, I didn’t bring the phone with me.)

Plopping him down in the mud just on the other side of the chink in the fence, I resumed my run — sorry, my rain-frolic — and put in a few more laps around our local consumer mecca. On the next pass, he was still where I had left him. Obviously, he was a bit shell shocked (I am SOOO sorry, I regret it instantly). But by the time I circled back again, he was gone, leaving only a tiny mud puddle in his wake.

I’m not the kind of guy to call something like this anything more than a happy coincidence. Still, it felt good to know that I probably saved the little guy’s life. But one has to wonder: what the hell was he doing in the middle of the parking lot anyway? Was he turning his back on his small-town turtle existence and trying to make a go of it in the city? Was he tired of it all and looking for a one-way ticket to turtle heaven (and I ruined it)? Or maybe he was looking for me, trying to send me (perhaps through turtle telepathy) the message that me running was my best way of saving the world, one adorable little box turtle at a time?

Yeah, probably just a coincidence.

Still: a good run.