Turtle Herding

Sometimes, weird things just happen, and it takes a hot minute to realize just how weird they are.

The other day, I was driving down Highland Lakes Boulevard to exit my community. Let me explain that the term “boulevard” is a bit ironic. The Boulevard is the main drag that runs through our subdivision- the main traffic artery for those of us living in my age-restricted 55+ plus community. Before we get too grandiose, let me point out that the maximum speed limit on the Boulevard is twenty-five miles per hour. It is one lane in each direction. The entire length of this super-highway to decrepitude is about 1.5 miles.

Anyway, I was driving on my way out of the community, when I noticed two cars in front of me, completely blocking the road. As I mentioned, there is one lane in each direction on the Boulevard. These motorists had created two lanes by expanding the road to include about half the sidewalk on the right side of the street. The two cars also blocked my line of sight, so I could not see what might be causing the delay. I tried to peer around the car parked halfway on the sidewalk, but my eyes apparently don’t see around right angles. I finally noticed the head of a petite elderly woman in the street in front of the two cars. I could only just see her small frame between the cars, shuffling across the street at about the speed that trees grow. I wondered why she had ever started walking across the street since it was clearly a super strenuous and stressful endeavor for her. I also wondered if I should get out of my car and see if she needed help, but I realized there were probably people in the two cars ahead of me who were in a much better position to evaluate the situation than I was.

Just as I was getting ready to open my car door, the lady reached the sidewalk. I saw the reason for her shuffling. Between her feet, as she perambulated onto the grass, was a small turtle. She was using her feet as lane bumpers to keep that turtle on course to get to the other side of the road. Of course, she could not cross the street any faster than the turtle could run. Since “turtle” and “run” are oxymoronic, it was taking quite some time. It turned out that the car on the side of the road belonged to the turtle herder. The other motorist stopped to provide a barrier to keep other cars from running over the lady or the turtle.

It is spring in central Florida, even if the calendar does not quite agree yet. The temperature and humidity are climbing. The pollen is piling. The growing season has started, especially amongst weeds. The alligators are bellowing in search of mates. And turtles are relocating to the next pond down the road. Here are my suggestions on how to survive springing:

Run the air conditioner. Just do it. Don’t tell yourself that you can’t possibly need air conditioning in March. You are not in Kansas anymore.

Take an allergy pill every day whether you need it or not. Trust me, if you don’t take one, you will need it.

Redefine success for your yard work. Consider it a victory if you spend 20-30 minutes a week in the early morning pulling the worst of the weeds and still have a pulse.

Stay well clear of alligators. They tend to get cranky when they aren’t getting any.

Look both ways for turtle herders!

What does Spring bring in your neck of the woods? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Happy Springing!

Terri/Dorry 😊


They say that, in the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. Well, this slightly not young woman’s fancy may also turn to love, but it also turns to something else. Baby Sandhill cranes.

I live in central Florida where Sandhill cranes are practically the official mascot of our region. Ball teams have cheerleaders that dress in feathers and make deep yodeling trumpet noises to encourage their players. Actual real-live Sandhill cranes are quite content to hang out anywhere reasonably close to water. They seem to have no hesitation about people or other interlopers. Since I live in Lake County, it comes as no surprise that we have quite the Sandhill crane population. In my community, we have lots of feathered Sandhill neighbors. In fact, you have probably seen bumper stickers that admonish “Share the Road With Motorcycles” or “Share the Road With Bicycles.” Instead, we share the road with Sandhill cranes. They are remarkably assertive creatures. They are perfectly peaceful and non-combative, but do not surrender their space easily. If they are standing in the road, they will likely keep standing there, even when approached by a two-ton vehicle. Once you have lived in central Florida for even a short time, you learn to just wait your turn. Those cranes will eventually move out of the way, but it will be in their own sweet time.

The Sandhill crane traffic issues may sound like a hassle, but, in reality, those of us who live with them don’t mind too much. These birds truly are beautiful, peaceful, and graceful. They glide across the sky with wings that span in excess of six feet. Their calls, something between a yodel and a dirge, are distinctively heart-warming. Sandhill cranes, like many birds, mate for life. I get worried when I see one on its own. There is something anthropomorphic about them. I have never been a huge bird person, but I find Sandhill cranes so relatable. Maybe I am more of a birdbrain that I ever thought.

Sandhill crane couples usually have 1-3 babies each year in the spring. Both parents care for the children. Kids stay with their parents for about nine or ten months. In fact, it is a bit traumatic for me to watch the crane families in December. This is about the time that the juveniles are being “encouraged” to leave the nest so that there is space in the family for a new set of hatchlings. The “encouragement” can look a little harsh.  Still, there is that circle of life thing and I am hoping that all that “encouragement” will motivate our juvenile cranes to find happiness on their own.

Starting towards the end of February every year, I start scanning the roads, greenbelts, and ponds in my community for signs of the newest Sandhill crane generation. It is a day for celebrating when I see my first Sandhill crane babies of the season. I am not the only person anticipating this annual event. There is a regular traffic sign a couple of miles away from my house that says “Caution: Baby Sandhill crane crossing.” So weird, but so nice.

The other day, the annual miraculous moment happened. I saw the Sandhill crane babies for the first time of the season.  We were driving out of our development to visit some friends when we passed a small feathery family of four loping cautiously across the green space along our community exit. I squealed involuntarily and barely refrained from slamming on the brakes. Max would have been alarmed by my reaction, except that he also saw the babies… and knew what to expect of me. I cried out in reverence, “Oh look, BABIES!” My heart jumped around inside my chest for the rest of the day, celebrating this momentous occasion.

I recently learned that Sandhill crane babies are not called “chicks” or “cranelings” or any other birdlike monikers. They are called “colts.” Now, I have always thought of “colts” as baby horses. It would seem to me that there is nothing further from a horse than a Sandhill crane. Despite being called a “crane,” I’m not thinking that the Sandhills can do any heavy construction work. Cinderella never had Sandhill cranes pull her pumpkin carriage, even with a generous helping of enchantment.  You can’t ride them. I don’t think there is a Sandhill crane racing off-track betting location anywhere nearby. Then, I realized the nexus. Baby Sandhill cranes basically look like ducklings stapled to the top of two spindly pencils, where the erasers would normally be. Their legs must be about five times the length of their bodies. When novelists write about leggy young girls who seem to not completely know what to do with their limbs, they often use the term “coltish.” I always thought those novelists were making the comparison to baby horses. Maybe, all this time, those novelists really meant baby Sandhill cranes!

What animals herald the onset of Spring where you live? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a flighty day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

The Wild Life

A few weeks ago, I was driving down the main artery of my housing subdivision and noticed a flock of spectators standing at the side of the road.  They were staring into one of the many large heritage oak trees that grace our community property. I have to say these oaks are pretty impressive, but I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a crowd gathering just to stare at one before.  The people must have come from far and wide to view this spectacle, whatever it was, because the crowd included pedestrians and bicyclists.  Many stood motionless, cell phones in hand, breathlessly ready to snap photos. 

As I approached the band of sightseers, I slowed my car and peered at the tree as I passed.  Then I saw what was captivating the crowd.  There were three fuzzy, feathery faces peeking from a messy nest in the fork of the tree.  These little puffballs with eyes were baby owls. Obviously, a worthy tourist attraction.  I made several trips back and forth over the next couple of days.  It was pretty easy to tell when the baby owls were making a personal appearance by the throngs of admirers gathered beneath the oak branches. The owlet view never got old. To be honest, I was gurgling and chortling with the best of them every time I drove by and saw…  WHO? The young ‘uns, of course! 

Once, I saw the mama and daddy owls.  I’m not sure if an owl can actually be self-satisfied, but the avian parents sure seemed to be gloating over their breeding prowess.  They stared out of the nest, languidly eyeing the fans below.  I guess they deserved to exhibit a smidgeon of smugness.  Those babies are quite an accomplishment!   

Some days, all I saw was the nest. Before I saw the baby owls, I probably would have been excited just to see the nest. Now a collection of twigs and leaves woven into a bird condominium fails to impress me.  I crave the whole baby owl experience.   

About a week ago, I drove by and noticed that someone had secured an area around the owl-occupied oak tree with yellow police tape.  Apparently, the hordes of admiring fans and cell phone paparazzi freaked out the baby owls.  In the interest of wildlife conservation, someone decided to give them a little space.  Not privacy exactly, because crowds still gather regularly to gape at the nestful of adorableness. Owl baby pictures are splashed all over the covers of Facebook.  Still, now the owl aficionados have to maintain a respectful distance from the owl nursery.  The cordoned off perimeter is sort of like an ecological restraining order.  The owls are able to get their forty winks (and don’t owls just seem like they wink a lot anyway?) without worrying about a crazed birdwatcher committing some manner of nest invasion crime against them.   

I like living in a community where yellow police tape means “please don’t disturb the owls” instead of “please don’t disturb the evidence!”

With the coming of the owlets, I guess spring is officially here!  What makes spring official for you?  Please share your perspective by adding a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Sorry about the early post this week.  I have to be out and about early tomorrow morning, so thought I’d post tonight.

Have a hoot of a day! 🙂


In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t take this picture.  A kind soul shared it on Facebook.

Springing Forward

The hospice nurse says my mother no longer experiences time in the same way most people do.  Do you think it might be contagious? 

Never before in my life have I messed anything up because of the beginning of Daylight Savings Time.  Last Sunday, I was getting ready to go to church.  I happened to look down at my phone and noticed it said the time was an hour later than I thought it was.  I wondered what was wrong with my phone.  As it turns out, nothing. 

I went to church, still operating firmly in Eastern Standard Time despite all iPhone indications to the contrary.  I thought I was arriving early for Sunday School and was surprised at how full the parking lot already was.  I noticed some folks going into the church and wondered at that.  By Terri Time, it was just about an hour before the service was to start and people usually don’t arrive that early.  Finally, out of nowhere (or, maybe, out of the numerous hints that my brain was consuming but apparently not digesting very quickly), I realized that Daylight Savings Time might just have started at 2:00 o’clock that morning.   

So, I did not have a spring forward this year.  It was more like a stumble forward.  Maybe I was actually pushed directly into the path of an oncoming time change.  I think there might be a message for me in this. 

I think I may have become a little stuck in flux during this past season.  Is that an oxymoron?  Can one be “stuck” if one is in a state of “flux?”  All I know is that I think my brain has been wallowing in some sort of disagreeable sludge ever since my mom had her stroke.  I have become used to living in a nearly constant mood of sadness, anxiety, fear, and inadequacy. It has become a comfortable ooze, if not a pleasant one.  I tend to sink deeper into it rather than exerting the effort to lumber out of it.  Yes, this whole journey started back in the last Daylight Savings Time.  Theoretically, I’ve had a couple of time changes to adapt to my new circumstances. I’m not sure my transmission is that good, though.  It tends to slip.  Given my sinister slide into the emotional muck, I’d say I had no trouble at all “falling back.” 

Now that spring is here (whether I sprung with it or not), it might be a good time to recognize and acknowledge new birth.  There has been a lot of growing inside me recently.  I’ve graduated from my perception that retirement is simply well-earned rest.  I’m now seeing how retirement can and should be enriching, as well as restful.    More than two years after my move, I have started thinking of Florida as “home.”  It no longer feels disloyal to prefer my life in Florida to what I was experiencing back in California.  I believe I have learned more about myself in the past two years than in the prior 30 plus “career” years put together.  The best news about that self-education is that I am figuring out how to appreciate myself.  I’m not saying that I am all that and a bag of chips, but I think I can now safely say that I am at least the bag of chips.  

In addition to recognizing and acknowledging the new beginnings I’ve birthed since my retirement, spring seems a good time to nurture the seedlings that are beginning to sprout for other changes.  I know I’ll never be okay with my mother’s condition, but I do sometimes feel the stirrings of acceptance and reconciliation.  This spring, I want to be a gardener.  I want to tend to my mother’s heart- to fill it with beautiful flowers and plants and lovely scents to remind her how much she is loved.  I also want to tend my own heart- to heal it and love it and remind it of how much I love. 

Is spring growing season for you?  Any particular “gardening” you are planning for this year?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Happy almost spring!

Terri 🙂