Thursday, August 04, 2005

Alt-turtle-tive Lifestyles...?

Love in the Grapes Posted by Picasa

Well, paint my shell pink!

This afternoon, I was out back, tending to some watering after I got home (early morning at work, so missed the usual sunrise watercan tour)...and kept hearing this rustling, clacking sound in the margin of wild grapes at the garden's northeastern corner. Finally, feeling brave, I started looking carefully around...and discovered two box turtles.

One was the fellow with the damaged-and-repaired shell I photographed on Memorial Day...but upside down and tight inside. The other, with undamaged shell, was trying to right the first one...with, after some time, no success. Typical human, with no real sense of what was going on, but wanting to help, I reached in to help and turned the upside down one right, recognized him as my old friend and set him back down beside the other, and stepped away. I left them for a while, concerned as my mind considered all the possible scenarios I might have interrupted. Was my damaged friend dead, and the other mourning? Were they feeling amorous? I continued with the watering, hoping I'd return to find them gone...and thereby healthy.

I heard more rustling/clacking sounds...and then looked back to find the undamaged one was pushing the other - still closed up tight - through the brush. Not sure if I was witnessing mating, or some ritual for the dead, I went inside and googled the eastern box turtle for any information I might uncover.

First, I discovered that males of the species are slightly larger...AND that they have red eyes, while the females' eyes are a grayer shade. Mating rituals are supposed to go on throughout the summer. This tells me (after a quick look back for reference at the earlier photos) that both of these turtles today are male, and perhaps the one with undamaged shell was trying to get lucky...and the other, earlier-spotted one, was maybe playing dead, trying to get the other guy to go away. Who hasn't been there? So now I we have gay turtles in our yard? Who can say...

While further googling for any reference to specific instances of homosexual behavior in the species, I found no particular information there that was on topic. However, I did find references to the right-wing bozo (in deference to my Pennsylvania friends who might be embarrassed by their senator, I'll not name him) who declared that gay marriage was like your neighbor marrying a box turtle. Which is exactly the kind of thing I go out to the garden to avoid.

At any rate, I can think of few gardens where a gay turtle (not that there's anything wrong with that) would be more welcome! Oh, yes, and when I looked for them this evening, they both appeared to have moved on to other things...or maybe a more private thicket.

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