The color green
Of course, I love the color green. It does rhyme with Christine, after all, but honestly, there is another so very important reason why I hold this color near and hold near and dear to my heart.
I remember when I was a city child, and I would walk along the sidewalk, and I look down to see blades of grass bravely reaching up from between the cement slabs. My parents would exclaim that the crumbling concrete really needed to be repaired, but to my eye, the sidewalk was perfect, just as it was. I thought the green bursting forth from the crumbling cement was absolutely beautiful.
One day, when I was about 5 years old, my Aunt Laura asked my parents if she could take me to the circus, all by myself, with no little brother in tow. I carefully chose my dress, and yes. I chose the light green one that had three bands of wavy, grosgrain ribbon running around its hem. I could hardly sit still while my mother braided my hair and tied off each pigtail end with soft green bows.
The circus was wonderful. When the show was over, we fell in with the crowd winding along the coliseum’s corridors and down the stairs. We passed by multiple vendors, each hawking their trinkets, but none of their wares interested me. Then, off to the side, I saw a cart that was covered in clear glass bowls, and I could see that each bowl was filled with sparkling water. As I got closer, I could see that the water was shimmering because a small green turtle was frantically swimming inside each bowl. The vendor called out “Missy! These turtles perfectly match your dress! You must take one home!”
“Oh my!” I exclaimed, looking up at my aunt. “May I, please?” She reached into her purse, and I, of course, became the proud keeper of a beautiful, ever so tiny, red eared slider. He was no larger than a quarter, but somehow, and rather miraculously, the little turtle began to grow in my care. He actually thrived, and I have no idea why, but I named him Henry.
In time, Henry’s light green coloring turned to a handsome dark green. He continued to grow and thrive, getting ever larger and larger, and by the time he had reached the healthy size of a salad plate, my father decided it was time to build him new home. I assisted as my father sawed the lumber, mixed the cement, cut the glass, and created a wonderful, cement walled, glass fronted aquarium with all the proper pools and sunning spots I could imagine. Everything was perfect in Henry’s world, until one day, when I realized that I would be leaving home, and heading off to school.
My parents shook their heads. They would not care for Henry in my absence. I was devastated. I had really grown to love this green creature, and I honestly believe that he not only knew me, but had grown to love me as well, in his own turtle way. When I set him down on the floor, he would follow me. When I held him in my lap, and ran my fingers across his shell, he would close his eyes.
I could not simply give Henry away to just anyone, but years before, my love of this turtle had led me to join the city’s herpetological society. I went to the next monthly meeting, stood up, and made the announcement, tears in my eyes. My fellow herpetologists understood, and I was able to find Henry a new, loving home.
Henry and I bid each other a fond farewell. I ran my fingers down the back of his shell, and he arched his neck over his shoulder toward my hand. Turtles had, by this time, become my very favorite animals. They had come to hold a special place in my heart, all because I loved the color green and had worn my green dress.
Every spring, I now eagerly await the year’s first turtle sighting, and then, all throughout the warm weather months, whenever I see a turtle, I stop my car to help him or her, safely across the road, and of course, I always have to smile when I see the creek’s turtles basking on the warm rocks, their back feet stretched out behind them, to better soak up the sun. Now that I think of it, I realize my love of turtles is really all because I grew up in the city, and the cement crumbled, and the grass grew up between the sidewalk cracks.
Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.