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I Know Why the ­Turtle Crosses the Road

There’s so much good to do and see during Chesapeake summer

       Sports bettors have some odds worth their while in the race between the tortoise and the hare, for it may tip in unexpected ways. The race between either species and vehicular traffic is no contest. The car, truck or bus always wins.
       I stopped my car for my first turtle this week. The eastern box turtle was big, its russet-on-olive shell rising to a dome of four or so inches and stretching over six inches, by my quick measure. So it was a survivor that turned its periscope neck to give me one timeless look before retracting.
      Life unfolds slowly for the evaders of the hazards we humans — their key predators — create for them. Full growth, and possibly reproduction, are achievements of two decades in lives that can span four or more.
      But our roads cross box turtle territory, so box turtles cross our roads. Each adult has its own home range, and their lifetime forage range is about the size of two football fields. In a single day, they might travel 50 yards. When they cross the road, they know where there are going, for they operate under the direction of strong homing instincts.
      This is good turtle weather; they don’t like it cold, and they don’t like it hot. So they’re up early these late spring and summer mornings, feeding before the sun makes their work too hot. The one I carried across the road, in the direction it was traveling, was not the first I had seen. The others, on four-lane roads of fast traffic where I dared not stop, I fear were likely doomed.
      Stop and help them across when you can. But for heaven’s sakes, don’t move them to a place you deem safer or take them home as pets, for their survival on your terms is not a bet worth taking. The future of the species in the territory where you found it depends on the survival of that particular turtle.
      I hope your comings and goings by land and water are also safe, for this is human time to be out and about. Like box turtles, we’re always hoping for that ideal day that’s neither too hot, too cold, too sticky or too wet.
      Festival organizers optimistically plan on so many ideal days that you’d think they’d never gotten caught in May or June rain. The first weekend of June vies with the first weekend of December as the season’s busiest. That’s this weekend, when you have your choice of ethnic festivals — Irish and Greek; neighborhood garden tours — Hammond-Harwood House and North Beach; strawberry festivals — Ann Arrundell Historical Society and Cape St. Claire; heritage festivals, at Bowie and St. Clement’s Island; arts festivals — Paint Annapolis and First Sunday Arts Festival; children’s festivals — Kids ‘n’ Kaboodle at Chesapeake Children’s Museum, CalvertREADs Festival at Prince Frederick Library and Children’s Day on the Farm at Jefferson Patterson Park.
       You can shop at a farmers’ market most every day of the week and hear a concert most every night of the week. You can choose from five plays — and get ready by reading reviews of two of them in this very Bay Weekly. 
       You’ll find all this to do and more in 8 Days a Week. 
       All that’s on top, mostly, of all the fun that’s yours to have following the guidance of last week’s summer special 101 Ways to Have Fun, Your Guide to Summer on Chesapeake Bay. 
       So much to do and see makes me understand why the turtle crosses the road. 
      Let’s make our journeys with deliberate care for ourselves and one another, so we all get where we’re going.