Don’t blame me. It’s Robert Fulghum’s fault.
When he published “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” in 1988, he opened the door for a dozen subsequent books, essays, posters and parodies. There have been “Learned From” messages about dogs, cats, space aliens, Noah’s Ark…even a nod from Bart on “The Simpsons.”
But nothing about turtles.
Nada. Zero. Zip.
And I did look.
Today, I am correcting that literary deficit.
All I Really Need to Know I Learned from My Turtle
- Know when to slow down and when to haul shell. It’s more of a jog than a sprint, but my turtle Shelley can move. Particularlywhen she’s running for fallen leaves at the fence line or escaping to the little lake next door.
- Stay curious. When she came to live with me, we traded Shelley’s translucent box for a glass terrarium. I add/remove rocks, tree bark, shells and such, just to keep her on her…claws. She treks around, peers out, watches as we pass by. Seems content.
- Exercise your right to make a racket. Hungry? Clack your way along the glass. Cat come calling? Knock yourself out to tell her to go away. Turtles can be noisy, no joke.
- Have a plan to protect yourself. A turtle’s shell design combines armored tank ingenuity and hokey-pokey dancing. My take? Every perceived risk in life merits its own analysis and unique response. Don’t hide when you simply need to hokey.
- Hibernate as necessary. Sleeping away the winter is not mandatory for turtles, the vet tells me. But some long naps are certainly in order when daylight dwindles.
- Savor every strawberry. The universe is filled with fantastic foods…but they’re not all equal. Some make you healthier and happier. When you find one that does both, go for it.
- Turtlenecks never go out of fashion. Classics coordinate with everything, everywhere.
- Live long and prosper. Shelley is, by best guess, about 14. The vet says she may live to 40. Ask Kate how happy she is to know this is part of her inheritance.
My work here is done.