He lumbered along the pavers, under the eaves at the far corner of the house, closer to home with each small step.

At least I think he was a he.

I wasn’t sure how to tell with a turtle.

I wondered if he was the same one that ended up in the arena last year around this time, toe to toe with a huge Belgian warmblood that thankfully didn’t engage in an investigatory stomp. The horse and turtle seemed to be having a conversation, which of course they weren’t, unless they were.

That lost turtle eventually found the safety of the pond, with a little help, after likely being deposited in the arena by a frustrated predator. And this one didn’t get here on his own, either. Something, a hawk or falcon or coyote or bobcat, had picked him up, found him to be too heavy or difficult, and dropped him a long way from home.

I didn’t know how long he’d been trudging along, but he was still a hundred yards of pavers, concrete, and horse dry-lot away, heading back toward the pond at a painfully slow clip, knowing in some untraceable corner of his reptilian mind where home was.

A lot could go wrong between here and there, though.

I wrapped him in a towel and carried him the rest of the way. His shell was the size of a dinner plate, worn and cracked, and he had to weigh at least 10 pounds, much heavier than the couple of flakes I’d just fed the mares.

I set him down on the grass next to the pond and waited until he pushed his way into the water. I’ve seen him every day for the last couple of weeks, drifting along the surface, until the slightest too-close movement of a horse or person sends him diving to safety.

At least I think he was a he.

Does it matter?

Just another soul, trying to find their way home.

Photo by Jorge Aguilar on Unsplash

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