is that a turtle…?

is that a turtle...?

{no song lyric today, just a question I was asked ever so often back in the day. The answer was technically “no,” unless I was feeling too weary for explanations at the time. She was, in fact, a tortoise — an African Spurred Tortoise, though only a little one.
A tortoise is a grazing animal and then some, one who “eats like a horse” rather more effectively than does an actual horse. She would eat steadily throughout the day, but at a somewhat alarming rate. Sunny days spent mowing the grass — and attracting rather obvious questions from startled passersby — were all well and good, but bad-weather days indoors resulted in bouts of houseplant-demolishing, newspaper-eating, toe-nipping feeding frenzies that certainly challenged the notion of tortoises as peaceful, sluggish, vegetarian beings.
I was pondering the dandelions the other day and recalled her first encounter with a proper field of the little flowers. They all popped up at once on a summer morning, and she didn’t know what to make of it. For a moment, at least. Soon she got to business, neatly beheading each buttery blossom until she had her fill, passing over former favorites in her sun-drunk haste.
She wouldn’t touch them after that. As of the very next day, she couldn’t be persuaded no matter how enticing a presentation I attempted with them. Dandelions, it seems, are the ultimate seasonal delicacy — exquisite for a day, but never again.
And for those worried about the use of the past tense here, she’s not gone in that way. My home was only a stopover for her, sanctuary from a place without sun or flowers. I hadn’t the space to keep her, either, at least not for long. She went to a keeper of her kind, with acres and burrows and nary a newspaper in sight. I wonder if she ever decided to try the dandelions again….}

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