Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Turtle Trap

Years ago, a turtle wandered into our next door neighbors' backyard and took up residence underneath their in-ground trampoline.  The nearest playa lake is about two miles away, so how the turtle randomly wandered into their backyard was a mystery in itself.  Our middle son, Bryce, was eight years old that summer.  The thought of getting a free pet turtle set his little brain a-turning.  Devising a plan for enticing a turtle into our backyard became his mission.

The day that his plan materialized was laundry day for me.  The three boys had run outside to play in the hot summer sun.  I was taking advantage of a brief moment of calm by sorting the huge pile of laundry that was barricading my laundry room door.  Then, I grabbed a laundry basket and strolled through the house picking up stray baseball socks, sweaty t-shirts, and wet towels.  Walking back into the laundry room, I stopped dead in my tracks.  My jaw dropped open.  My eyes narrowed.  My blood began to boil.  There on the lid of my top loading washing machine was a huge mess of glitter and glue.  I'm not talking about a little bit of "oops" spilled glitter. There was at least a cup of glitter scattered across the top of lid of the machine.  It had spilled over into the crevices between the lid and the rim of the washer.  Opening the lid would result in an avalanche of glitter spilling down onto a load of clean, wet towels.  By examining the coagulation of the Elmer's glue blobs, I could see that the perpetrator had not had time to make it very far from the crime scene. 

I backed out of the laundry room and dropped the basket full of dirty clothes.  In about 3 steps I passed through the sunroom and opened the back door.  "BOYS!!!!!  I NEED TO SEE YOU RIGHT NOW ON THE BACK PORCH!!!!"  Jonathan and Reed warily walked through the back gate as Bryce slid down the slide from the fort. I crossed my arms and gave them The Look.  "What's wrong, Mom?" one of them was brave enough to ask.  "There is a huge mess of glitter on the dryer!  HE-uge mess!  Which one of you did something involving glitter today?"  Two of the boys glanced at the third.  "Glitter?  Uhhh...I used some glitter to make my turtle trap.  Is that the glitter you're talking about?" Bryce asked tentatively.

I escorted Glitter Boy swiftly back to the laundry room.  "Bryce, please explain to me why there is SO much glitter?"  "Mom, it takes a lot to cover the outside of a shoe box!"  "What shoe box?"  "The one I found in your closet that had those gold sparkle-dy shoes you never wear!"  "First of all, I will wear those gold shoes some day!  I'm not sure when!  But, someday!  And, second, why on earth didn't you cover the washing machine with newspaper before you did the glittering!"  "Well, it's a washing machine, isn't it?  We can just wipe it all in there, and it will just wash away!"  I had to admit that his thinking was as sound as it was age appropriate.  "Wanna see my trap?!"  By now, I was curious.

Bryce led the way to the flowerbed that bordered the fence in our backyard.  Sure enough, there turned upside down and propped up on a stick was a shoebox oozing with a thick, gooey coat of multi-colored glitter.  There was a piece of string running from the stick across the grass, over to the fort.  From there, the string led straight up the side of the fort to the "hideout" platform.  "Wait here!  I'll show you how it works!" Bryce beamed.  He scurried up the ladder and peeked over the side of the fort.  "Look in the trap!  See the little piece of lettuce?  That's the bait!"  A small shock registered in the pit of my stomach when I envisioned the glittery head of lettuce in my refrigerator.  "The glitter will attract that turtle away from the Kuesers yard!  When the sun hits it just right, he'll wander over here to see what's so sparkle-dy.  When he gets real close to the trap, he'll smell the lettuce.  I'll be waiting up here where he can't see me. When he enters the trap, I'll pull the string and - WHAM - the box will fall down!"  With that, he pulled the string which, indeed, caused the turtle trap to fall soundly to the ground.  "Now, all I have to do is wait up here for that turtle to come!"

My frustration melted into soft, gushy mother pride and sympathy.  While the execution of the plan could have used some tweaking,  I was impressed with Bryce's ingenuity.  "That may well be one of the best turtle traps I have ever seen, Bryce.  Can I bring you a snack or a juice box while you're waiting?"  Walking back into the house, I combed my brain thinking of where I might come up with a wild turtle to plant in the flower bed that very afternoon.  Nah.  Even if I found a "free" turtle, I would be way too chicken to actually pick it up.

So, there Bryce sat for the afternoon shushing his brothers as they ran whooping through the backyard.  From time to time, I stopped folding clothes and tiptoed to the back window to check on Bryce's progress.  Even I began to believe that a turtle might magically appear.  If Emperor Penguins can march 62 miles to their mating grounds, who's to say that a turtle wouldn't venture from the playa lake on the Lakeridge Golf Course, make the trek across the 6 lanes of 50 mph traffic on Slide Road, and traipse a mile uphill on 84th Street in search of a spectacular eatery containing a wilted piece of lettuce.  Or, I could go cut a deal with the Kuesers.

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