samedi 7 janvier 2012

All creatures

The "tortue"

Don't ask me its species. I don't know. It's something you're not allowed to buy in France, but if you look around online, you can find people breeding and selling them, and we wound up with one. I shan't say how. I don't need the law, on top of the stepchildren and everything else. This one came with one of the stepkids, his books, clothing and other miscellaneous belongings, when he moved from his mother's house into the orange room, out in the petite maison, three or four weeks ago.

At his house, he had an enclosure in the garden in which it lived, but I am told that it is too young to hibernate out of doors and must live inside. I didn't ask any questions, but the other day, when I went to retrieve the broken Eastpak backpack to take back to the store for repairs (really; they are actually sending it back to Eastpak for a new zipper, at no charge, in honor of the lifetime guaranty -- 25 years in France), I saw a cardboard box on the shelves, along with a portion of my English language book collection that made the move over here a few years ago, and I looked inside it. There was the turtle, lying on its back next to the bottom cup of a very small flower pot painted gold, given to me one Christmas in Greenwich by a friend, who died of lung cancer not many years later. It made the selection for the move. I turned him on his stomach, and sent a text message to my stepson.

"J'ai trouvé la tortue sur son dos. Je l'ai retournée."

"Cool! Merci," came the reply.

Today, I went in to check the electric heater, since the room will be unoccupied, and we are hypervigilant on consumption of all energy sources aside from protein and wood, and I glanced in his cardboard box; there was the turtle, lying on his back.

It was getting to be a habit.

He is bored, and he is trying to get out. When he pushes up straight against the side of the box on his hind legs, overambitious, he falls over onto his back, spreadeagled. There, he is perfectly helpless, until someone comes by and thinks to check on him. I am about to start calling him Gregor.

I righted him and carried the box into the house. He might die, but it won't be on my watch, if I can help it.

I was determined not to get attached to this creature. I have resisted the charms of the dwarf Russian hamster my stepdaughter retrieved from her mother's and repatriated here some weeks after she moved in, almost. I have resisted the rabbit, who has remained behind, altogether, and the cats are not even a question.  Check with me on the stepchildren themselves in a few more weeks. I placed him on the kitchen counter, and switched the cup from the miniature flower pot for the saucer of one of the espresso cups, reached for a little lamb's tongue lettuce, and set the whole thing on the table. I was watching him, when my husband and son walked in the door.

"Je l'ai trouvée sur le dos encore," I explained, not wanting him to think I had developed a sudden interest and tenderness for this little creature.

"Elle est mignonne, n'est-ce pas?" said my husband. There was no point. I had to confess.

"Oui, il suffit que je regarde une petite bête, et je suis perdue," I admitted. There has not been a creature I have been able to resist, large or small. I am not always successful with them, the rescues, I mean. The healthy and living pets is another thing. Almost.

We all sat down to our lunch, skillet macaroni and beef to cheer and comfort my suffering son, in exam period, and lamb's tongue lettuce for the little turtle. I'm not sure who ate with more appetite and abandon, but it might well have been the turtle. They eat a lot, my husband informed me. That's fine. I have a big bag of the lettuce.

Now, I have to look up proper indoor living conditions for the little one, and make sure he, or she, has what is needed. For the time being, it's in the house, where there is usually someone to keep it the right side up.
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