I was tooling around 110th Street, surprised to see a pileup of bikers and runners halted at the crest of Harlem Hill.
Uh-oh, I thought, was it an accident? Did someone wipe out and are now sprawled in the road barely conscious? Italians always think the worst…it’s in our DNA, like garlic and money sewn into pillow cases.
Was I surprised seeing two policemen, one halting traffic, the other escorting a large tortoise making its way across the road.
The size of a turkey platter, it was taking its sweet old time unconcerned over the ruckus it was causing.
“Hey, I’m a turtle folks, not a rabbit, I’ll get there…eventually.”
Oddly enough, no one complained. We all observed waiting patiently for him to reach the woods wondering why he ever left their sanctuary to begin with.
Boredom, someone said.
Adventure, suggested another.
After a long five minutes, things resumed.
I said to Officer Mariano getting back into his police car, “That was very impressive Officer, the way you advocated for that big, old guy.”
Tortoises live to be ancient so God knows his age or the miles he’s trudged in his time.
“Hey, he’s lucky we saw him. I can’t tell you how many don’t make it across. If only their legs were longer.” I thought of Carmela the basset hound whose gams could also use a little lengthening.
The other cop whose name I couldn’t read said, “Ya gotta respect nature ma’am because pretty soon, the rate we’re goin, there won’t be notin left.”
Notin left? That made me take pause as I looked around me. You mean there might come a time when Central Park and all her creatures will disappear?
No, my money’s on Mother Nature who, like Frank Sinatra, will always make a comeback. As I thought this, there was the tortoise again detouring into the sunshine as if to say…
“You said it baby…take it from an elder.”