Published 6:24 pm Tuesday, December 22, 2020

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By Holt Livesay

Late one hot and sunny afternoon in mid-June I was sitting on the bench on my front porch enjoying the outside air. I was recuperating from an earlier surgery and consequently not getting around much. I was surprised to look and see a large turtle making his way through the 4-inch-tall grass between my house and the one next door.

I had heard from a neighbor that a large turtle had been spotted in another yard a block and a half away a few days earlier. Another neighbor had seen one a few houses down the block from our house earlier that week. It’s no big surprise because we live at the end of a cul-de-sac, and behind the houses to our left is a couple-acre pond that handles the run-off from our retirement community.

Well, the turtle came ahead to the edge of the sidewalk and stopped. He lifted his head straight up and looked around; he probably couldn’t have seen the sidewalk until he happened upon it.

After pausing there briefly, he started across the sidewalk and into the 10 feet of grass between it and the street. Every 10 feet or so he would stop and stick his head straight up as far as it would reach (about four inches) to get his bearings. When he reached the edge of the paved street, he paused again and looked around. I thought, “Buddy, you don’t want to cross that 120 feet of asphalt. It’s hot.” I’ve found that out walking after supper with my walker. There is still a residual body of heat in the asphalt, compared to the concrete sidewalk.

He pushed off and crawled straight across the circle of the cul-de-sac, and he still stopped every 10 feet and raised his head and looked around. As soon as he reassured himself of his bearings, he put his head back down and continued forward with his slow gait To his benefit, there is precious little vehicular traffic near the end of our cul-de-sac. No cars came or went while he was crossing. While looking at him, I estimated that his shell was 14 inches long and 12 inches wide, a good-sized turtle.

When he reached the other side of the street, he went up a driveway apron. There is a grassy strip between two driveways, and I presumed he would go through that strip to cool his feet off. Nope, he went right up the nearer driveway about 30 feet to the closed garage door. When he ran up against the door, he turned sharply right and went around the comer of the garage and into the shrubbery. That’s where I lost sight of him.

It occurred to me that this wasn’t the first time he’d made that trip. Living in the pond and moving around the neighborhood, he probably knew exactly where he was going.

But after he was gone from my sight, I pondered life where one’s view of the world is from a height of 4 inches above ground level. He doesn’t know any different and probably has never imagined life seen from 5 or 6 feet above the ground. I thought, “It certainly is a different perspective.” I wish him well.

HOLT M. LIVESAY is a resident of Franklin. Contact him at