Tortoise Crossing

images Never a dull moment in Central Park.

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.

A girl?

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.”




About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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28 Responses to Tortoise Crossing

  1. skinnyuz2b says:

    Almost everyone I know from our small upstate town has stopped to help a turtle (normal size) get to the other side of the road. Now you’ve got me wondering just what the percentage of helpers would be. My guess is around 75-80% based on what I’ve heard.


    • That hill is steep so bikers zoom up and down it without seeing pedestrians let alone misplaced turtles. There’s a curve that can be particularly dangerous when you’re running because if one of them creeps into the runner’s lane, forget it…you’re flattened like in a cartoon.
      I’ve seen small turtles before, and Central Park actually has a turtle pond with 100s of them, but one this size was a first. He was quite the dandy. Let’s hope helpers top more than 80% 🙂


  2. micklively says:

    Wonderful story Susannah. I’m not sure why, but I feel gratified to know that Manhattan’s coppers are reptile-friendly.


  3. katecrimmins says:

    Only in NYC! Here we have ducks and geese and people are torn between considering them a nuisance and thinking they are wonderful. I am, of course, in the second group. There is now a $500 fine to feed either in the park system. You can feed anything else but the geese and ducks.


  4. Elle Knowles says:

    Always stop or turn and go back for the turtles and help them across the busy roads. Our back yard backs up to the creek running through the park. Lots and lots of water turtles. They crawl under the fence and lay their eggs in the yard. Box turtles also live in the yard and they arrive on our carport daily to share the cat food left out for our cats. You could set your watch with them! Glad those cops think so highly of the species. He was right – one day life may not be as we knew it. 😦


    • You have all that turtle-ism going on? That’s amazing. I’m a big fan, even before the sighting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Elle Knowles says:

        Love my turtles. I have a red slider in a tank. We found him in the back yard two years ago when he was smaller than the size of a quarter! Kept him because I was afraid something would gobble him up for dinner. Now his shell is about 5-6 inches long. Franklin’s his name – my grand daughter named him. Like that – turtle-ism. 😉


      • You have one for a pet? Wow…that’s great. I took care of one for a few summers years ago when a family I knew went away. I think that’s when I caught turtle fever.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m pretty sure if that happened in this town, it would be front page on the newspaper. I’m glad the old guy made it across. I wonder what it’s like to live life at that leisurely pace. Of course, he probably thinks he’s going normal speed and we’re all whipping around like hummingbirds.


    • I love your line…to live life at that leisurely pace. It might account for their longevity how they’re always sunning themselves on a rock or taking a stroll.
      They are fascinating creatures alright.


  6. Arthur Seder says:

    I’d always stop for a turtle, but, just sayin’, not the geese. In the suburbs people stop their cars and back up traffic waiting for geese to cross the road, when (as I know because I’ve done it) they will get out of the way if you proceed through them slowly. (And I’m not sure I buy the “they were here first” argument – are you sure about that?) If you want an excellent read about just what we’re up against when we’re dealing with Mother Nature, I suggest “The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman.


  7. I just love the thought of the turtle not giving a shit about all the raucous. Just taking it slow & steady. There is a section here in the city that actually closes down a certain road once a year due to an excess of frogs crossing to get it on. No doubt Marvin Gaye is playing all night long!


    • Hope Kate reads this…frog crossing…she’d LOVE that. I love how turtles look…like Sherman tanks without ammo. And when they pop their head back into their shell, I am so envious…short of a hood, we can’t do that Top. Always an upside to being anything.


  8. so glad the turtle made it safely across… we have turtles in our pond except when the alligators are around, turtles are the gator’s favorite food… Personally, I always cheer on the turtles, I like to see them, lots of them. Great read, as always! DAF


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