Monday, June 12, 2017
Between Elberta and Frankfort is a short land bridge—Betsie Lake on one side, the marshlands of the Betsie River State Game Refuge on the other.
“Whoa, hey! Stop the car,” said J. He noticed a turtle trying to cross the road behind us. I looked in the rearview mirror. She was giant—one of those craggy old gals who, were she a person, would be a chain smoking local with her own barstool at the Cabbage Shed.
By the time I turned around, he was already outside the car. I yelled after him everything I knew about turtles. “Sometimes they bite! My love, be careful! I think they might have diseases! And make sure you take her in the same direction she’s going!”
He picked her up by the sides like a pro. “Has he wrangled turtles before?” I wondered about my Brazilian fiancé. “In the Amazon, probably.” Her head thrashed around as she tried to bite him. I chided myself for not recording this. Instagram gold. Was this appropriate for a ‘Story,’ I wondered, still not sure what that even really is. But I digress, this is not a story about my social media ineptitude.
Eventually the two of them arrived safely on the other side of the street. A passing convoy of tourists honked and waved, grateful for our service to the natural world.
I could smell him before he got in the car.
“Don’t touch anything!” I screamed. “You know they have diseases right?” Now much more confident in my assertion.
“Yes,” I said. “Salmonella.”
He probably thought I accumulated this knowledge from growing up on a lake and catching turtles. The truth, however, is that I know this because my family—a bunch of vulgar nurses—named a stuffed turtle of mine ‘Sal’ when I was three years old. Sal was short for Salmonella.
He had a monocle and a dapper red scarf.