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Hill Country Living

Callous Driver Runs Over Sweet Shelly

By Coulter Fussell

It’s definitely turning summertime in Water Valley. It’s getting hot, it’s starting to storm everyday, and all there is to do is watch the daily progress of Main Street construction projects and go to various birthday parties. I’m not complaining, I love Main Street construction and birthday parties.
I’ve noticed over the years, though, that our town has an unusually high occurrence of June birthdays. Which just means that as hard as we work on our various construction projects, we seem to really (and I mean reeeally) enjoy Labor Day as there’s a consequential Generation-Gemini born in Water Valley every June.     Celebrating their birthdays occupies the entire first month of our summer here. It’s a real commitment. Either we should require a pre-Labor Day community outreach class explaining the perils and aftereffects of too hardily “celebrating” holidays or we should just embrace this Water Valley phenomenon by publicly acknowledging we have a self-control problem on Labor Day Weekend. Then we should throw a huge, downtown street party for all the Gemini’s in town. Get it all over with at once. Get back to watching construction.
Other than birthdays, there’s not a lot happening in Water Valley lately and I’m starting to realize why Betty occasionally writes about roadkill. And speaking of roadkill, I witnessed murder last week. While pulling out of my driveway during one of those summer afternoon monsoons, I noticed that the Cutest-Little-Box-Turtle-To-Have-Ever-Graced-Our-Cold-Hearted-Planet  (I call her “Shelly” for short) was high stepping it, turtle-style, across Leland Street. I stopped my van and got out in the downpour to move the little turtle from certain death. There was no one around except me, the driving rain, Shelly…with her little neck stretched out as far as it could go, looking anxiously toward the great grass beyond, her funny little bent legs tip-tapping across the street in a full-on slow motion sprint, and her big turtle eyes slowly blinking away the rain … and a car coming down Leland. The same car that promptly ran over the turtle. On purpose. While I stood there. Soaking wet in the rain. Four feet away. Waiting to save the turtle.
Shelly made a surprisingly loud “pop” that awed both me and the driver (and probably Shelly for about the next .00025 seconds.) My only condolence is that when she went out, she went out loud.
I think it’s a sin to kill a turtle. As do several of my friends who upon hearing about this incident said I should blast out a description of the murderer and his vehicle on social media so we could hunt this sucker down. I decided not to as I pictured a mob of angry turtle-loving women converging on this man and beating him to death…very slowly. Like a turtle would have done. So, while he heartlessly took a turtle’s life, he should thank me for saving his.
And he should remember this the next time he feels like killing a turtle in the summer rain:

“For, lo, the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land…”

— The Song of Solomon (2:11-12 KJV)

Yes, the voice of the turtle appears to be a very loud ‘pop’ and, granted, this verse could probably be interpreted to mean “turtledove” but still. Let the turtles live. Everybody wants to have another birthday. Even turtles.

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