I have continued to read (slowly--I do not have as much time to read as I would like) the short stories of Philippa Pearce. I read one yesterday, "Fresh," that I felt was absolute perfection. Quiet, with almost the texture of velvet, it reveals a child's first awareness of death. It moved me deeply. I know not everyone likes that kind of story, but I do.
This morning, going for a walk, I found another small piece of perfection. I live in an area of vast suburban development, with little of the natural left except arranged plantings, but on the path I take I do pass, at a slight distance, a small patch of woods.
I saw something dark on the sidewalk--a stick or a leaf, I thought, or a bit of unsavory dog business. I almost continued right past, but stopped mid-stride. Could it possibly be? I looked closely. It was.
A tiny-tiny box turtle, a baby, a perfect miniature. No longer than the space between the tip of my thumb and the first knuckle--maybe an inch--though rounder, with the high, arched shell of a box turtle. More overall brown than an adult shell though, with no hint of dark red or brush of yellow, without any shine or gleam. For a moment I thought it was dead, like those squashed, petrified frogs you see on the road, but then it moved its leg. I picked it up and it immediately tucked its legs in and shut its eyes tight. Knowing it would get squashed for sure on the sidewalk, I moved it to the edge of the wood patch, tucking it under a leaf. I worried I had put it in exactly the wrong spot, right where an animal would find it to add it to its breakfast, but I did what I could.