I got a lift back home one day from work, though that morning I had dismissed the suggestion as I could easily walk home and listen to music on the long walk. However by mid morning my eyes and face had swollen from a lot of sun the previous day I could barely smile, I got a text saying – pick you up at 2.30, I felt an inner phhhewww.
Also this day was the possibility of picking up my new car. Though it feels more like ‘our car’ as I have enough additional drivers and I didn’t pay the down payment, it’s an IOU, I was also sort of grieving my old red car that had served me so well for two years. I will grow to love my pale green Kaur mobile.
I got in the car and said ‘Ok so we’re going to Halfords and then the garage?’ My Dad followed with ‘Yes, yes, but we’re picking up Mum first’. Pause, really it takes three people to get a car? People choose to sit in a hot car on a scorching sunny day? Yes apparently it does and they really do. My Dad followed this with ‘Wait, wait, your always in a rush’ I responded ‘I’m not, it’s just if we’re out, let’s stay out and do our next thing’. We drove home, I said yes to going in as I felt like a snack, all I could find was muesli so I made a bowl then chose to have it outside and that’s when I saw it.
A tortoise, a real life tortoise.
Me: There’s A TORTOISE in our GARDEN!
Mum: Where, what, where?
Me: RIGHT THERE moving along. Do we have neighbours with a pet tortoise?
Mum goes to call at the neighbours.
My Dad and me then take turns on tortoise watch.
It was then that interesting thoughts came of timing and symbolism.
Stuff that my friend talks about when she’s in nature such as playful pigeons and red berry trees. The author Martha Beck too talks of watching creatures such as squirrels you feel uplifted out of your funk as they are so free and spontaneous. Also I started the day before a course on Deepening your connection with Guru and it felt like ‘a moment of divine intervention’ on a very ordinary day.
What was the tortoise telling me?
A few things actually:
- I think it was my cue to slow down. If I had just rushed to go the garage and not gone home, I wouldn’t of got a snack, ate outside, seen the tortoise and the little boy next door wouldn’t be able to feed his pet tonight that they borrowed from someone they knew.
- I think it was also a reminder to – take a photo! In fact I feel like the tortoise was saying – Hey I’m here in your garden, that’s different and interesting, photo opportunity! I ran upstairs to get my polaroid, came down stairs to see it had no film in, ran back upstairs got the film, then got my Dad to hold him for a photo. I also took a few on my phone too for close ups, how often do you see a tortoise? I don’t unless it’s behind glass at a zoo. It’s a reminder to charge my Lumix and just use it! Do photo of the day project if you have to just do something!
- Tortoises turn out to be fast! And this one was 50 years old! So it seems the story where the overall theme is ‘it’s the tortoise who wins the race’ is actually true. The tortoise and for the sake of this story I will call him a he, would put his head back in his shell if he felt a threat (me trying to take a selfie of us) and even did some deep breathing/grunting too. Then he would walk on his four legs, find some nice plants (smart and fast), walk some more, then take a breather, walk some more until he came across a washing line that produced shadows and my Dad making sure he drunk some water in the heat. Both highly stressful I’m sure of it. We walked the whole of my garden, up down, zig zagging as he was small I could pick him up and redirect him.
I had the opportunity to walk around bare foot on the grass, something I love to do though don’t as often as I’d like and just watch him move. I thought about a Ted talk I’d watched on allowing things to unfold, about Art and Activism, he was doing that with his body, exploring everywhere without a permission slip.
The story ends here – the next door neighbours came home from the school run and I picked up (what I was now calling him and thanking him for his visit) Mr. Tortoise and walked him through our house to the front door to our grateful neighbour who held him a different way where he didn’t move his legs as if he was trying to swim his way out of whatever was happening at that high.
Everyone was happy and we went and got my car.