During a stop on a recent Sunday ride, while I was prowling around taking snaps of streams and leaves, Tallulah the Turtle was forming a new acquaintance.
"'Forming a new acquaintance'? Are you trying to sound like Jane Austen?" mutters Tallulah, who is sitting on my desk as I type.
"'Miss Austen,' if you please. And pray, why should I not emulate her style? Was not she a mistress of elegant, rational prose? A worthy example for any blogger to follow," I respond (with some hauteur).
"She was alright, I guess," says Tallulah. "But I don't see why people make such a fuss about her. Her pet tortoise Thomasina* was a MUCH better writer."
"Thomasina the tortoise!" I cry. "Why, all she produced was an unfinished novel with a nonsensical name. Turtles and Tears! Such stuff!"
"Turtles and Tears was a masterpiece in the making!" says Tallulah hotly. "All the reptilian critics agree. If only Thomasina hadn't been run over by a carriage, she would have been a writer to reckon with - much greater than your Miss Austen."
Oh, the futility of trying to combat an unreasoning literary prejudice! Though filled with just indignation at this slur upon the talents of a recognised genius, I strive for composure, and am presently able to respond in a tolerably dignified tone. "May I remind you, Tallulah, that I am trying to tell our readers about your new friend? Perhaps you'd rather write this post yourself?"
"I thought you'd never ask!" says Tallulah, as she climbs onto the keyboard and elbows me out of the way.
Howdy, readers! Tallulah the Turtle here. Mrs. M having kindly (ha!) handed over the keyboard to yours truly, I thought you might like to hear about someone I met recently. It happened like this:
Last Sunday, after weeks of being stuck indoors, Mrs. M finally took me for a ride. (She claims that her legs have never recovered from the September virus, but I think she's just been slacking off due to the cold weather.)
As we tooled along, I kept seeing these really fuzzy turtles crossing the road. They were few and far between, but you couldn't miss them - all bristly, with black and rust-colored stripes. Plus they were pretty quick on their feet. (Come to think of it, they had an awful lot of feet. More than any turtles I'd ever seen before.)
When Mrs. M stopped for a photo break, she put me down on the road to stretch my legs. And wouldn't you know it, along came one of these fuzzy guys. My lucky day! I couldn't wait to find out all about him. (Enquiring Turtles Want to Know.)
"Hello!" I said. "I'm Tallulah. What's your name?"
"Hi, Tallulah! I'm W.B.," he said.
"What kind of a turtle are you?" I asked.
"I'm not a turtle at all. I'm a Woolly Bear."
"Is that what the W.B. stands for?" I asked.
"No, the W.B. is for William Butler. My parents were big poetry fans," he said. "What kind of turtle are you?"
"I'm a crochet turtle," I said proudly. "One of a very rare breed."
"A crochet turtle?" he asked. "Is that anything like a painted turtle?"
"Not really," I said. "But let's not talk about me - I want to know more about you. For one thing, why are you crossing the road?"
"To get to the other side, of course. Is there any other reason?" (Made sense to me.)
Just then, Mrs. M began making agitated noises.
"Who's that?" asked W.B.
"That's Mrs. M, my chauffeur," I replied.
"What's she getting so worked up about?"
"I don't know," I said. "She seems to be squawking about a car or something...."
Next thing I knew I was being seized and whisked off to the side of the road as a car rushed past at terrific speed.
"What's wrong with you, Tallulah?" demanded Mrs. M. "Didn't you hear that car coming? You might have been run over."
"I was busy, if you must know, talking to the fuzzy guy down on the road." I said. "Why didn't you pick him up too?"
"You know I never pick up caterpillars," said Mrs. M. "I just take their pictures and leave them alone."
"Caterpillars!" I cried. "He's not a caterpillar, he's a bear. Weren't you worried that he might get run over too?"
"Of course I was worried! I worry about all the animals I see on the road. But the car was going so fast I barely had time to pick you up. Is your friend okay?" said Mrs. M, turning me to face the road while she (for some reason) looked the other way.
But I had shut my eyes. "I can't look," I said. "You tell me."
"I can't look either," said she. "I can't stand it when animals get run over."
There we stood, frozen with dread, as the wind rustled the dry leaves on the trees. What would we see when we finally looked down?
To be continued....
~ ~ ~
*Miss Austen's pet tortoise is a complete fiction. Don't tell Tallulah.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~