Sally, the Red-ear slider turtle, wasn’t chosen to be a member of my family. I had only agreed to turtle-sit her while my neighbors went on vacation but that was years ago. Grab a cuppa coffee; this is a good one.
My neighbor Andrea lived across the street from us in Pompano Beach, Florida. Andrea was a stay-at-home mom to young twin
monsters I mean boys and I worked from home. Almost every afternoon she’d walk over with wine glass in hand and we’d dish the dirt. Actually, she’d dish the dirt and I listened with mouth agape while I prepped dinner. She was a walking Hedda Hopper of neighborhood gossip, and I always wondered how in the world did she get her information.
So, Andrea walked over one day right before the 2006 holidays to tell me about their upcoming family trip to Mexico and asked me if I would watch Sally, the boys’ new pet turtle. She knew the turtle would be fine in my menagerie house of 4 dogs, Frank The Bird, and 4 foster kittens.
She brought over the 2-inch round little thing in a small 5-gallon tank that held a rock, a heat lamp and about 3 inches of water. Gee, when I had turtles as a kid we just kept them in those little plastic dishes with the fake plastic palm trees. I put Sally’s fancy tank on the kitchen counter which was supposedly a no-no in the real world but my kitchen was the hub of activity and I wanted to do a good job of turtle-sitting for my friend.
Sally was cute and would spend her days sitting on the rock under the heat lamp and taking dips in the water. She was no trouble at all really and her 2 week stay was uneventful.
The holidays came and went and Andrea and her family arrived home from their trip and she stopped by. I asked if she came to pick up Sally. She just gave me a crooked smile and said, “Well, I was wondering if you could keep her a little while longer while we do the addition to the house.”
“How long’s that gonna take?”
“Only a couple of weeks,” she replied. (We know how that story goes…if one is told it will take weeks to complete a job; that translates to months!) Caring for Sally was easy so I agreed to keep her.
Weeks passed, and Andrea escaped to my house to get out of the mess at hers. Months passed and Andrea continued to seek refuge at my house. I felt as if she had moved in too but she always kept me in stitches so I didn’t mind at all.
Fast forward to the straw that broke the camel’s back. Andrea’s addition looked terrific, the work was finally finished and she’s sitting at my counter sipping wine and dishing the dirt.
I asked her,”Aren’t you going to say hello to Sally?” I swear she just looked at me blankly and said, “Sally who?”
“Sally who?” I point to the turtle in the tank on my counter who had actually grown in size since she first arrived, and exclaimed, “That’s it; I’m keeping her!” Andrea was fine with that and said, “Good, my boys would probably kill her anyway.”
After Sally never left I learned that I was doing things all wrong. That she was aquatic, meaning she needed a larger tank full of water, a place to dry out her shell, and a heat and UV lamp, which replicates sunlight and helps metabolize vitamins. I joined an online turtle group and then truly began caring for Sally properly. I constructed a basking ramp and started feeding her tiny rosy red fish and veggies too. It figures that her favorite would be fresh basil at what, $3 a bunch! Did you know that turtles need water to swallow their food?
Today Sally is still in my kitchen but she’s now in Texas, is 9″ round, is in a large 75 gallon tank, has 2 very expensive filters and gets hand-fed fresh shrimp, clams, tuna fish and 50 rosy red fish every Saturday. I think she’s happy!
Have a terrific weekend everyone and give those furry, or shell-y kids of yours lots of smoochies… or at least smiles! Speaking of smoochies, have you read LUCCI to the kids in your life yet? Get it in print and they can read it over and over again!
P.S. I’ve got a lot of family cooking videos up on YouTube and there’s a funny one that I filmed of my mother and my nieces making fresh pasta for New Year’s Eve dinner that year, and Sally’s tiny tank is the background. Check it out if you have the time or inclination: http://youtu.be/BzdRJUbDF30 . Warning, I’m a bit obnoxious in it:)