Every Friday I share a photo and a story. A lighter touch. An easier read for the end of the week. Friday Photo + Words is my best way to end the work week.
So here it is: Friday Photo + Words.
But it’s June now, and the weather is perfect, and walking every day has become a habit I am completely in love with.
We walk after lunch. It’s our way to end what is usually a really chaotic, adventurous morning (as life with this active toddler boy always is!), and start my favorite part of the day: naptime (moms, you know what I’m talking about!). Lately, though, our naptimes have decreased. And our walks have, subsequently, increased.
It’s quite a racket to get everyone organized. There is me, Max, and the two dogs. There is a stroller. An iPhone. Keys. And water. Sometimes we bring toy cars. Or stuffed animals. Or a backpack full of toy cars and stuffed animals.
Cassie, our older dog, is basically deaf (she’s almost 14), and it can be a challenge to get her out of the house (she slips all over our floor – it’s an old dog thing) and leashed on the stroller. Meanwhile, Pepper, our (unfortunately overweight) longhaired chihuahua, capitalizes on my distracted state of the toddler and old-dog wrangling to run into the neighbor’s yard and eat cat poop. I know, it’s gross, and it’s why he’s overweight. But we’re working on it.
By the time everyone is organized, leashed, strapped, and settled, I realize I forgot something. And usually that thing is my earbuds. You see, walks in our neighborhood are a great time for catching up on podcasts. And I LOVE podcasts! (I’ll share more on that next week)
On this day, the day we met our turtle-friend, it was rainy. A good, hard, intense, summer rain had lasted most of the morning. And with our lawns burnt from a long, dry, hot May, we certainly needed it.
So when the weather cleared, we took our time walking under saturated trees and took slow steps on the warm, wet pavement. We admired puddles and flowers and the muffled sounds of a quiet weekday afternoon.
Our neighbors, who normally spend sunny afternoons outdoors, stayed inside. There were no passing “hello’s” or dog barks or other walkers. There was only us, walking, listening, and taking it all in.
After we made it through our normal route, I checked on Max to see if he was asleep (he usually is). He wasn’t. And so I continued on the extended portion of our typical walk route and checked again.
And he was still awake.
So on my last pass through our neighborhood, down a street we had circled through twice already, I noticed something different. A rock? A small puddle? A turtle!
When I was in early middle school I begged my mom for a pet. She agreed under the condition that I was responsible for its care, its food, and cleaning its cage. I chose a turtle. Specifically, a map turtle. And I named him “Speedy.”
Speedy was a good turtle, as far as turtle pets go. And I rewarded him with long, leisurely roams through our moderately sized backyard. He loved it. Or at least I think he did.
One day, after a long walk in the backyard, I couldn’t find Speedy. I suspected fowl play on the part of my mother, who I distinctly remember was mowing the lawn that very same day. Still, to this day, the whereabouts of my escapist pet turtle remain a mystery.
So when I came across this turtle, it was like finding an old friend. Almost out of reflex, I found myself reaching down to pick him up, the same way I used to pick up Speedy, with fingers holding the top shell, about 1/3 of the way back from the front feet (and out of scratching-range).
I held him up to Max. We played a brief game of “peek-a-boo” (Max’s personal favorite, still, at nearly 3 years old) as the turtle tried to hide his head from our view. We talked about his shell, and how he could hide away his head, and how his feet were webbed to help him swim. Max eventually worked up the nerve to touch him and admired how hard and slimy his shell was.
And only a minute or two later, I returned our turtle-neighbor back to the ground, where he could quickly escape any future human handling.
And, yes, I made sure to put him near a yard that didn’t have a dog or a cat. 😉
On our walk today we ran into this little dude. It was one of those rare moments where Max had the chance to touch and feel a creature (most of what we see is usually behind a fence or cage). The turtle didn't like it, but Max and I had a great time! #creatureadventure (And, yes, we still walk in sick days!) #my365goal #walkeveryday
I titled this post “embracing adventure” because my first instinct was to walk right past this turtle. To ignore the opportunity and focus on walking another 2 miles until Max finally fell asleep. And I’m so glad I didn’t do that. I’m SO glad I stopped and took a moment to teach Max about a real-life animal that we could actually touch and hold.
It’s such a rare experience to find wild things. We spend plenty of time at a nearby farm looking at animals, and have traveled to all of the local zoos and the aquarium in our area, but those experiences can’t compare to the real, unfiltered, unplanned adventures. The ones that happen when you’re just living your life and, suddenly, something crosses your path. And you get the opportunity to do something fun. Something unique. Something authentic.
So today, as we head into the weekend, I urge you to keep your eyes open for your own opportunities – the ones that come when you don’t expect it. Embrace them. Adventure a little. And enjoy the memories and the great moments that come from adventuring.
Happy weekend, friends!