September 12, 2007

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

While walking our dog, Lady, I noticed a car slow and steer around a small dark lump in the road. Upon closer inspection, I saw that lump was a baby turtle.

Since developers plowed through our area with a vengeance about five years ago, we’ve seen a lot of animals in the road – opposums, raccoons, snakes, turtles and squirrels – usually dead or seriously injured. (And no, they did NOT die of natural causes, unless getting run over by someone driving a Hummer while chatting on the cell phone is considered a natural cause.)

So, I was happy to see this baby turtle’s head poking around, exploring its environment.

I tied Lady to a post just outside the Greenway – a small fenced area full of grass and pine trees and creatures (who couldn’t, despite numerous signs, figure out where their natural environment ended and massive new home construction began).

I picked the turtle up and watched it duck its head inside its shell.

Intending to place it several yards inside the Greenway, I made it only a few steps when I felt something stab at my ankle. I brushed at it. Then again, a sharp pain.

With turtle in hand, I looked down to see dozens of fire ants swarming up my sneakers, pink socks and ankles.

Sorry turtle.

I put that baby down fast and slapped the biting ants off my ankles. I ran out of the Greenway to the sidewalk and stripped off sneakers and socks faster than you can say, “Yeowch!”

Cars passed, but if the drivers were from around here, they knew exactly what I was doing. Most people in this part of South Florida have had at least one unpleasant mishap with an innocent-looking sand pile that turned out to be home to swarms of mean, biting ants.

While I was smacking ants off my skin and socks, I noticed Lady picking up first one paw then another. Strange behavior for her. I grabbed one of her paws, and my hand came away covered with fire ants.

With both of us being bitten, I stood in bare feet and worked the knot out of her leash so I could get her away from the area. She and I had been standing on top of a fire ant nest, but the ground was so wet it looked like an innocent pile of dirt.

I worked at each of Lady’s paws until I wasn’t pulling off anymore ants, just bits of loose fur.

Lady seemed no worse for the wear, and I was already mentally composing a story about the incident, so I knew we were both okay. It was then, we walked into the Greenway, picked up the baby turtle and moved it farther into the grass.

Lady is napping beside me now. And I’ve got only a few bite marks on my feet and ankles. And somewhere, there is a baby turtle happily poking it head around the grass instead of lying in the middle of a road with Hummer tire tracks on its shell.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ouch! Fire ant bites are the worst! Okay, maybe shark bites are slightly worse but not much and there usually aren't piles of sharks lurking in the grass when you're trying to save baby turtles. Although, you never really know in South Florida.

Wishing you a great day (and lots of Calamine lotion!)

Jill N.