Today’s morning was cool, damp, and sunny following last night’s showers. I got up and started to work out on my treadmill then, gazing through the window, wondered why in heaven’s name I was not outside walking. I turned off the treadmill; gathered my excellent Playaway novel by local author Domnica Radulescu, Train to Trieste, and my cell phone; stretched; then jogged down the long drive out to the curved, uphill road. I inserted my earbuds but did not yet turn on the play button. As I focused on my breathing and the day’s elements surrounding me, I could hear my heart accelerating through the buds. What a way to open a lovely fall day!
Proceeding uphill, I gazed at the roadside scenery: graceful, gently swaying grasses, new and rusted beer and soda cans, pretty weed coverings, fallen branches, and some acorns. Many of my new neighbors smiled and waved at me as they passed in their vehicles, one a white-bearded man on his bicycle. I felt absolutely right with the world.
Then I suddenly wondered if I’d unplugged the treadmill, green grinch that I am. I could not remember doing so—which in recent years has become a completely unreliable measure—so, acknowledging that exercise is exercise either way home, I turned. My eyes continued to peruse the sides of the road until I noticed a small mound the size of a scoop of slightly melted chocolate ice cream with butterscotch sauce dripping down, several inches out into the road. Puzzled, I walked over and discovered, to my delight, a small box turtle completely closed away. Holding him in my palm, my thoughts slid back decades to the childhood hours I’d spent turtle-hunting in the woods, bringing them home, feeding them lettuce and raw hamburger (I now know that’s not the best turtle diet,) and keeping my board-and-brick turtle pen well supplied with water and grass. Mom’s wise rule was to let them go after two days and so I’d hunt for more, naming countless turtles Myrtle.
Now I recalled yesterday when I’d found a large turtle newly crushed in the road near my mailbox. As I buried him next to my roadside garden, I wished I’d come out earlier for my mail and perhaps been able to give him another day of life. Yet this was today and I took my young reptile home, placing him in my front deck garden with a fervent wish: “Be safe, little guy. There’s a stream right out back if you want it.”
In the house, I chuckled at the unplugged treadmill cord that lay on the floor, returned outside, smiled at the still-closed turtle shell, and started out up the road once more. Jogging again, still filled with deep peace, I pondered that unexpected, seemingly incorrect nudge to return home, which stemmed from that small inner voice that often speaks to me, the one I’ve learned to closely listen to and honor as I’ve (hopefully) grown in wisdom.
The mystery for me was this: was the nudge to get off the treadmill and go outside, then the subsequent nudge to return home to check the electrical cord really about my wish to conserve electricity in any small way, or was it all about that little turtle starting out across a dangerous road?
I embrace what my heart tells me is truth.
Yesterday, September 11th, I deeply grieved and every day I ache for our faraway soldiers. Yet this morning I celebrate this passing encounter with my small fellow creature and delight in the gift he brought.