What? Have I twice said well? When was 't before?
I prithee, tell me. Cram 's with praise and make 's
As fat as tame things. One good deed dying
Slaughters a thousand waiting upon that.
Our praises are our wages...
--from William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, Act I, Scene 2--
Before I begin my story about Moe and Joe, I'll treat you with a sursum-corda look at my pink Gerbera daisies and one of our two baby pink grapefruit trees. They do tend to brighten up an otherwise fading-into-winter landscape here in Northwest Florida. Secret Aging Man picked our one grapefruit since this picture was taken a few days before the last full moon, and let me tell you, it was juicy but lip-puckering tart. If I were the kind of person who always says "I told you so," I would have reminded him that we had a discussion about the optimal time for picking the fruit. I'm learning to bite my tongue, though, about certain things. Most situations in life just aren't worth picking a fight, even if it does boost the old ego or enhance the mojo to take someone else down a notch or two. Secret Aging Man has endured enough ego deflation or mojo meltdown being unemployed this past year to last him a lifetime. It's still true, for better or worse, that a man's notion of self-worth is married to his ability to provide for his family. Thankfully, SAM's persistent, yearlong job search has paid off, and he's "moving forward"--have we had enough of that term yet?--with his career. Now I can tell Moe and Joe's story...
Every time I see a turtle now I think about a guy in Kentucky named Joe Sly--not his real surname--and his anniversary gift to his wife Moe. When I was favored with a glimpse of this box turtle, Terrapene carolina--not sure of the subspecies--several weeks ago as it crossed our back yard, my mind slipped back in time to old Joe and his odd turtle story. Secret Aging Man crossed paths with Joe when they both worked for an environmental consulting company in Paducah. SAM the geologist and Joe Sly the GeoProbe Guy worked as a team looking for subsurface contamination coming from leaking underground storage tanks. Back when state and federal funds for this kind of work just about grew on trees, in the mid 1990s, SAM had no trouble landing a job in Kentucky after selling his own environmental service company. Times were good for most Americans then as the nation's prosperity was kicked into high gear. Even Joe brought home a sizable paycheck for his labor with the GeoProbe, but his east Kentucky frugality never left him. One day while working on an out-of-town project near a lake, Joe spotted a huge snapping turtle in the water. Somehow he managed to wrestle the thing onto dry land without getting bitten and put it into a wide bucket. He took it back to his hotel room that evening and kept it alive in the bathtub for a few days until he could get it home to his wife. As the story goes, when he separated the animal from its shell, he found a gold ring stuck tightly around the proximal end of its tail. Since Joe's wedding anniversary was coming up, he considered himself doubly blessed. He was finally able to give Moe the real gold ring she'd never had as well as able to present her with some of the finest turtle meat ever to grace a table. We never got to meet Moe and hear her side of the story, so this might just be one of those Tall Tales that men at work tell each other to lighten the load.
For more posts this week about nature and the change of seasons, please visit Ramblingwoods.com.