Yesterday Tallulah reminded me that I hadn't yet taken her for a ride. "Don't worry," I said. "The season is young. I'll take you very soon."
"But you're riding today, aren't you?"
"Well - yes - but it's only a training ride. I'm not taking the camera or anything."
"Please may I come? I'll sit in your pocket and not bother you at all."
"But if I take you on the ride, I'll be wanting to stop and take photos of you when I should really be doing intervals instead."
"Photos? Oh, I'd love to have my photo taken. I'm getting awfully bored riding around in your purse all the time. And your bloggy friends must be wondering what has happened to me."
"You will? Hooray!"
(Of course Hooray is much too brief an exclamation of joy for a turtle to have uttered - because turtles, in addition to moving slowly, talk very slowly too. Very slowly and rather softly. But you get the general idea.)
So Tallulah is tucked into my back jacket pocket - the left pocket, with the keys - and the camera goes into the right pocket. (Spineless cyclist that I am - shame on me for tempting myself in this way. But Tallulah's first Wisconsin ride must be recorded for posterity. It is an historic event.)
Only one brief photo shoot, I promise myself, as a sop to my cycling conscience. Though the sky be blue and the rippling snow-fed waters sparkling with unheard-of joy at their release from winter's bond - though the turtle be wheedlesome and beguilingly cute - she's simply got to stay in my pocket.
As it turns out, she's quite happy to stay there. It's another 36º day and the north wind is like the fist of an icy giant - now clawing, now buffeting.
Several miles out of town, on a sheltered road, Tallulah emerges for her photo shoot. "Wow, look at all the snow on the ground," is her first remark.
"Yes, isn't it wonderful," I say drily. (The sarcasm goes right over her head.)
She asks permission to explore a bit, then sets off down the top of a fence.
...turn out to be lichen - not so yummy after all.
A sign is affixed to the fence. "No ... tortoising," she reads.
Her turtle lip begins to tremble. "No tortoising? Don't they like turtles in Wisconsin?"
"That's 'No Trespassing', Tallulah. You're reading it upside down." (Sigh of turtle relief.) "Here, let me put you on this fence post over here. You can gaze out over the snowy field and look thoughtful."
"Brrr! That wind is blowing right through my shell," she shivers. "Can I get back in your pocket now?"
"Just one more shot," I say. "Let's make it out-of-focus so I'll have an excuse to play with the photo-editing program and make you look all postery."
(Of course all my bad photos are intentional.)
Our photo shoot done, Tallulah takes a last look down the road (getting the cyclist's-eye view)...
...then it's back in the saddle for both of us. After all, I tell, her, I have a training ride to finish.
"What are you training for?" Her voice comes faintly from my pocket as we head down the windy road.
"A Very Special Ride, coming up at the end of June," I reply.
But the wind snatches my words away, and Tallulah is left wondering.
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