Friday, July 06, 2007
I just remembered that the sweater was actually made for Cleo! - she was the turtle I had for over 30 years who didn't know, really, that she was a turtle. She behaved more like a dog and would follow me around the house if I took her out of her big aquarium. Cleo hated the turtleneck and would pull her head back into her shell whenever I put it on her, so it was relegated to Homer. Really, it wasn't easy figuring out just the right size to fit Cleo and I felt very clever doing it.
She also knew there should be Purina cat chow in the kitchen by the stove, and even 10 years after the cat was gone, she would make a beeline for that spot. When there was a cat, she'd get that piece of cat chow in her mouth, carry it back to the living room, stand with her front legs up on the bricks, turn her head to watch for me, begging to be put back inside the aquarium because pond turtles can't swallow outside of water.
Cleo liked people. I once took her to a biology lab class and while the T.A. was talking to us, Cleo stomped up to him, stood with her front leg on his foot, which is what she did when she wanted to be picked up (and I thought, hugged), and as he was mid-sentence he looked down, saw this huge turtle on his foot, jumped a mile, which cracked the class up. And then he fell in love with Cleo. Everyone did.
Cleo has her very own burial spot in my front yard with a big turtle-shaped flagstone covering the spot. Once in awhile there will be a little offering of flowers on it when a neighbor remembers her.
Turtles are generally only as smart as they need to be to be turtles; Cleo was one in a million and I still miss her.