Missed Me!

Eudora (Welty) knew, and I know that gardening and literature support each other. An early morning effort to get ahead of this Mississippi summer heat wound up bringing to mind the first poem I ever memorized – because I loved it, not because somebody made me. I headed out to weed the flowers just as a new turtle made its way across the yard. If you remember the jingles of young children, you’re probably way ahead of me.

I learned the poem about the time I started to school, when Mama had given up on my straight hair and was beginning to let it grow into braids.
        I had a little turtle.
        He lived in a box.
        He swam in a puddle,
        And he climbed on the rocks.

       He snapped at a mosquito.
       He snapped at a flea.
       He snapped at a minnow,
       And he snapped at me.

       He caught the mosquito.
       He caught the flea.
       He caught the minnow,
       But he didn’t catch me.
           [traditional – author  unknown]

In this case, I was not concerned that the turtle would catch me. I just wanted to be sure not to frighten him back into the shell so I could get a good picture. The turtle, as best I could translate, only peered at me to figure out who was invading his yard, before deciding to pose for his portrait.

I put up my camera and went back to pulling weeds, smiling all the while remembering the turtle from my childhood who caught the mosquito, the flea, and the minnow, but couldn’t catch me!