About seven years ago, my favorite nameless turtle, ran away from home. Now before you interrogate me with questions regarding how a turtle can run away… I’ll tell you that my turtle was the kind that stayed in one place for hours and hid inside its shell even from the slightest sound. My father was cleaning the turtle aquarium, so it would only be appropriate to take the three turtles out. They were all placed on the grass in my backyard and I was keeping watch of all three of them. I got distracted (mostly bored–as every nine year old would) and left. I thought they were gonna stay in once place–they always did. Well, they did. Two of them. The third one was gone. It had a different unique pattern from the other turtles, that’s why it was my favorite. I panicked and told my father he ran away. We put the two other turtles back inside the aquarium and looked for the third one. But hope was not in our favor, he was lost.
Anyway, I was reminded of this incident after reading Chapter 3 of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. The whole chapter was dedicated in describing a land turtle crawling on a road. The turtle’s “hard legs and yellow-nailed feet threshed slowly through the grass, not really walking, but boosting and dragging his shell along”. It was alone on a journey, probably lost and uncomfortable. One truck driven by a woman approached it, but luckily swung away before hitting it. However, a second truck, whose driver saw the turtle, swerved to hit it and flipped the turtle over. It “spun like a coin, and rolled [off] the highway”. Fortunately, it survived.
After reading about the roadside turtle, I thought about my nameless turtle. He survived also. He walked home one day by itself returning after a couple weeks. I had given up on him after printing over 50 copies of “Missing Turtle” fliers and putting them into everyone’s mailboxes in my neighborhood. So when he came back, I was more than happy, I was astounded. His shell was chipped and he was covered in mud and dirt. I cleaned him up and placed him back with the other turtles. I wondered how he got injured. He must have been on a wild journey walking precisely two miles per hour. Maybe he was hit by a truck like the land turtle. But whatever my turtle had to go through, I was just thankful it survived and returned. I’ve kept better care of it ever since. I almost even gave him a name. It is still alive right now though its shell is still damaged. What didn’t kill him, made him stronger.
My turtle and the roadside turtle from the book symbolizes more than survival. They represent the unexpected journeys that take place in one’s life. It even represents the character, Tom Joad, who goes on an unexpected journey in The Grapes of Wrath. My nameless turtle will forever have a relation to the yellow roadside turtle in John Steinbeck’s American classic novel.
Film of the week: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)
Journey on an adventure with these three animals that escape from a California ranch and travel across forested mountains and areas of wide-open countryside for hopes of returning home (like my turtle).