“We called him Tortoise because he taught us,” said the Mock Turtle angrily: “really you are very dull!”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
The past two years since my husband died I was indeed very dull. In order to survive, memories of our previous home ( which I loved very much ) became dull and far away. I suppressed thinking of home and life as it was before because thinking only brought back the picture of “that day” when I found him on the bathroom floor.
Spring is all around us and it awakened the desire to get my hands dirty and feel the wet soil while planting plant new plants in the garden. On Thursday after work I stopped at the local nursery on an impulse. I wandered along meandering pathways lined with flowering shrubs and annuals. Around a corner I came across the succulent section and there he was, sitting amongst the echiverias looking as if he was just about to take a bite of the juicy plants around him.
He was an enormous clay tortoise.
I was immediately transported back to our previous home. As we lived out in the countryside, our property was bordered on the one side by a river and on the other by a nature reserve. During the dry winter months water sources became scarce in the reserve and we had many interesting visitors looking for water in our garden. My favourite was a big tortoise. Each year at the end of the winter he would push his big body with great determination and perseverence through the electrical fencing, in search of life giving fluids.
His favourite place to find this was my border of echiverias. Many times I found him there eating his way steadily through the plants untill only the stems remained. he would look at me with sticky juice running down his face as if to say:” Thank you for planting these for me”
Initially it upset me, for he would ruin a whole year’s worth of growth in a day, but after a few years I found myself waiting for him to appear. Now here he was again in the form of a clay tortoise sitting in the nursery with a price tag on his back. I just had to buy him and take him home with me as he, for the first time in two years, brought back happy memories.
I left the nursery with Tortoise sitting in the back of my car. At home I set out to create a place for him to live. Of course he had to live amongst echiverias. Now he a has a permanent river of echiverias surrounding him and I a permanent reminder of happy times in a previous life.
I will call him Tortoise because he taught me to remember the happy times.