As many of you may be aware, I’ve been watching the turtles by the pond here closely for some time in an attempt to discover what they do when they think no one is looking. During this period I’ve amassed copious notes and images, such as the image on the bio page displaying a turtle adjusting a pond light.
I’ve also observed them doing nefarious things. As their population grows, the number of lovely 20-pound goldfish that share the water has diminished as the younger turtles, also known as red eared sliders, or Trachemys scripta elegans, gut them for snacks (images withheld due to their shocking nature).
Supposedly, the older turtles are herbivorous, but I’m not convinced as numerous lost pet advertisements have sprung up about the neighborhood. It’s likely that these are no ordinary basking turtles.
They also perform aquatic dances, an open display of the mating ritual wherein the males swim backwards in front of prospective turtlecitas, wooing with their forelegs stretched out palms up, giving them a come hither gesture with their ominous aquatic claws.
Each day they grow bolder, and what were once covert activities become more and more overt. Some afternoons as many as a dozen can be seen on the rock-walled shore, necks stretched toward the sky, and forelegs swept back in a yoga-esque pose as they worship the sun.
That’s right, they’re sun worshipers, and not the ordinary Pagan variety. I crouched unseen close by one afternoon as the breeze pushed a leaf lazily across the water and heard the larger of the group hiss, “Ah Kin,” repeatedly. Ah Kin means He of the Sun in Ancient Mayan.
Those of you aware of the Mayan creation story will recognize the significance of such an utterance, since the link between turtles and Mayan culture is well established.
According to some research:
In the Mayan Myth of Creation, the paddler gods transported the Maize gods in a huge canoe that corresponded to the Milky Way until they arrived at the place of creation that we know as the belt of the constellation Orion. The Maya saw Orion’s belt as a huge cosmic turtle. The god Chak cracked open the back of the cosmic turtle with a lightning stone. Watered and nurtured by the Hero Twins, the Maize Gods grew from the crack in the back of the turtle, which is now represented by the Ballcourt all across the Yucatan.
Despite un-closeting themselves, the turtles still appear wary of humans, skidding into the water the second an ape appears, with the exception of the largest, their religious leader. Many a time he has eyed me from the shore with impunity, and I am sorry to report that these turtles are none too fond of curious onlookers. Just this past weekend they made a brash attempt on my life by sending a seasoned armor-clad assassin to lie in wait outside my home.
Luckily, I am no stranger to the dark arts of renegade turtles, even those of the mutant middle-aged variety, and I sensed him as he crept up, then sprung at me in a maniacal rage, sharp beak open wide, razor talons flailing.
Had I been less alert, I doubt my survival, but I’m no hapless victim. In fact, I have loads of hap. I’m a regular hapster. After a vicious struggle, I subdued my would-be assassin and interrogated him quietly and expertly.
First I subjected him to questioning under the grueling glare of a single hundred-watt bulb, but to no avail; he simply basked in its warmth. Next it became painfully clear he was also immune to the old stand-by Chinese water torture, since he was already clearly insane and loved the water, so I tried a different tact.
We built up quite a rapport during his short term of captivity, sharing tales of drunkenness and debauchery while we quaffed the finest Aquafina and ate luscious grapes. He told me all the details of their dastardly plan to take over the pond and eventually become silent partners in every convenience store in the country.
“How on earth will you pull that off?” I asked.
“Speedy service,” he replied. “We have it all worked out.”
“Are you really from the constellation Orion?”
“You will be assimilated,” he responded.
“Not a chance,” I said, and laughed.
I returned him to his home and we parted as friends, the diplomatic tension between us as calm as the surface of the pond. Wanting to relax, I put on my swim trunks and stretched out by the edge of the pool as the sun warmed my back, glad that the long strange ordeal had finally come to an end.
About this blog entry
Originally published sometime in 2004-2005 while living in a lovely community with its own small lake, stocked with catfish and trout, and koi-eating turtles. Original date will be added if and when I find it in the backup databases.