It’s time so I expected to see him. They say the desert tortoise becomes active during the summer monsoon season so I’ve been watching the trail leading down to the wash for signs. I was not disappointed.
Since we arrived in Tucson three years ago, our tortoise sighting has been an annual event. Fortunately we live on land where native cacti, grasses, wildflowers and fruits proliferate, so it’s not unusual to have a tortoise as a neighbor.
But somehow the sighting makes me feel closer to my dad, who died in the late 1970s. I desperately missed having my father with me for special times, like the birth of our son, or watching Brett grow up, or moving here to the desert. When I see the gentle, lined face of this land reptile I feel my dad here with me. It signals to me that my dad likes our little wild spot in the foothills of the desert.
This year, true to schedule, after a big rain, the tortoise came rambling up the south boundary of our land. In a gesture of friendship, I offered him some lettuce. He stared at it for a long, long time (and allowed me to take this photo). The lettuce was not to his liking (never is, why won’t I learn he doesn’t need our interference?!) He stayed for a minute then turned and quickly made his way back to the wash just below us.
I wished him well, this stoic, beautiful independent soul. And thanked my dad, once again, for sharing a moment with me in the desert.