His entire species is threatened, but still he finds time to stop and eat the dandelion greens.

March 11th, 2014, 5pm

My father is a turtle champion or maybe, rather, a Champion of Turtles, from way back. He will swerve a car doing 70 across lanes of traffic to the barest shoulder of road, or half into a ditch if there is no shoulder, and sprint to the aid of some poor box, snapper or tortoise trying to get themselves from one side of the highway to the other.

I am my father’s son, and have a soft spot for the hard shelled creatures that I come by most honestly.

We found this one together, my father and I, which is something that hasn’t happened in many years. A gopher tortoise, a threatened species here in Florida.

He navigated the slow-moving traffic of Lettuce Lake Park easily enough and then we had our answer. We could plainly see why the gopher tortoise crossed the road, and it was to mow down on some of the greenery he spied on the far side.

This particular fellow must have been used to the tourists and park goers: he let me get right in his face with my phone to capture stills and video of him decimating the dandelion greens and other turtle vittles around. He started to retreat into his mobile home only a couple of times and I actually had to get out of his way as he sampled the wild buffet.

It was good, very good, to be slow as a turtle eating weeds for a few minutes.

Adrian and Chris said thanks.

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Michael Dechane

I forage and forge stories worth sharing.

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