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While you were hibernating

It's May. I thought for sure that Churchy, our 3-legged Western Box turtle, would be done hibernating. But it's been a tough winter, a tough spring. It snowed six times in April.

My husband, Keith, reports that Churchy has awakened a few times in the last month. It happens during the day when I'm at work. Churchy can be noisy, for a turtle. (Just as he can be fast, despite the missing limb.) He lets you know he's awake, first by rustling around in his terrarium and eventually by flinging himself against the glass. Keith sets him on the floor so he can ramble around the lower level (that's what we call the basement, because we're classy people).

Keith gives him a ramiken of water with a couple of blueberries or peas floating in it. Churchy ambles over to the sliding glass doors and looks out longingly. Once, in February, I watched him stare at the patio, which was covered with a thin layer of snow. A mouse had made crazy figure-eight footprint trails, undeniable evidence of frolicking and freedom. It occurs to me now, maybe Churchy suspected it was the work of Buddy the Hamster, who lives right next door to Churchy's terrarium. But why would we grant Buddy such furlough and not Churchy?

Maybe I'm projecting. Churchy seems content to sleep through the winter, as long as he can wake up a few times to check in on us. Yes, the teenagers are getting taller. The hamster's still spinning his wheel, and there's yet another load in the dryer. The 3-legged turtle takes a long drink of water, casts a glance out to the patio, and hits the snooze button.

He's saving his strength for summer, when he lives in the vegetable garden. He especially loves August. He'll eat tomatoes to his heart's content, until he's almost too fat to retreat into his shell.

It's May Day. I can almost imagine being out there too: the basil, the sungold minis and big boys, the morning glories, and Churchy. By then I'll have filled him in on all that happened while he was hibernating. Political rebellions. Earthquakes. Tornadoes. Grace's braces, which will naturally lead to the topic of household finances.

"Get this," I'll say to Churchy, "while you were hibernating, the county rescheduled a child-support hearing three times. And they call this the 'expedited process.'"

Church will help me put it in perspective. Without saying anything, he'll remind me: Things could be worse. Just look at the abundance, the tomatoes plopping to the ground, more basil than you know what to do with, morning glories blooming until sunset. And I'll have to admit, of course he's right.

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