Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My World and Welcome to It


I was recently adopted – no mean feat for a 57-year-old grandpa (technically, a great-grandfather, but that’s another story for another time). I’ve been accompanied into this new situation by the entire family, including our three energetic canines – all of whom have essentially been adoptees themselves.

About two weeks ago our backyard, long the dogs’ romping zone, became home, on the heels of a couple of days of heavy rain, to a good-sized turtle.

A crawling or swimming or flying critter is hardly a novel sight in the Bayou City. Before our grand-dog Duke moved in with us permanently, our property played host to numerous toads, a village of lizards, even the occasional snake. For several months, the front stoop was home to one tiny creature who seemed to be half-frog and half-lizard. He had long spindly legs with enough suction for him to maneuver safely on any vertical surface. The legs folded up neatly beside his inch-or-so long, lizard-esque body. At night, he’d feed on the insects attracted to the porch-light, rising up on those frog-legs to snatch dinner right out of the air. Then he’d attach himself high onto the narrow window by the door for a post-repast snooze.

It took this city slicker about a week to realize the stuff on the outside window sill was not just generic dirt. But hey, I didn’t know until the other day that a turtle has a tail, a separate opening in the shell for it as well, it seems.

To this day, I cannot put a name to that type of animal. I did, however, put a name to that particular animal. Somehow, I had begun calling him “Ignatius,” perhaps because I wondered whether he was an iguana or simply because it was a long and ostentatious moniker to bestow upon such a little bit of a thing.

Duke’s more frequent and ultimately permanent presence soon had Ignatius and the rest scurrying for a safer social setting. Of course, our most recent guest, while showing appropriate deference to the feet and snouts of the dogs, came equipped with his own protective gear, thus is less prone to flight. Initially, he’d “shelter-in-place” at the approach of anyone or anything, in no hurry to resume his foraging. Now, he still appears to be scoping out the scene from inside his shell, much quicker to unfurl his head like a charmed snake and inspect, more trusting of his surroundings and co-inhabitants.

The new arrival kept a pretty low profile for several days, lurking in the nooks, crannies and shadows. A time or two it seemed as if he must have waddled on back where he’d come from – then there he’d be again.

When my grandson the new kindergarten graduate and I began occasionally dousing him with tap water, a name became necessary. JJ came up with two good suggestions: Wrinkle Dinkle and Green Ranger. I tend to use the former, he the latter. Maybe we should split the difference and call him Green Wrinkle.

His timidity returned for a while earlier today, but it was probably a reaction to the noise and commotion of a visit from the lawn men. By late afternoon, his mobility returned, perhaps searching for the comfortable clumps of thick grass now missing from his world.

Unfortunately, the rigors of a hot, dry, South Texas summer do not bode well for our Wrinkle – at least not in his current digs.

My mind wafts its way back to the ‘70’s.

“If you love something, set it free!”