There was I, all tucked up in my crochet handlebar basket, lost in pleasant dreams of cycling seasons past. The next thing I know, I'm being ruthlessly hauled out, and my cherished cycling helmet is being replaced with my (admittedly stylish) winter hat.
"Wake up, Tallulah," says the dulcet voice of Mrs. M. (It's not really dulcet. She made me put that word in.)
"Whassappenin?" say I, yawning like a cave. "Is it spring already?"
"No," says Mrs. M. "It's still winter. But it's time we got off our patooties and took a little exercise."
(Mrs. M would be loath to admit to anyone but me that she has been slacking off shamefully in terms of exercise, preferring instead to sit inside where it's warm and dry and non-icy and there's lots of yarn to play with. But the days, she tells me, are getting longer, and the great outdoors are calling. If you ask me, it's got nothing to do with the great outdoors, and everything to do with what happens to humans who do nothing but sleep and eat and crochet. They turn funny shapes and their clothes don't fit any more. But you didn't hear it from me.)
Minutes later, we're heading out the door.
It's awfully quiet outside. There are no cars on the street, and no people - just me and Mrs. M alone under the great winter sky. Even the dogs have stopped barking. It's kind of creepy.
"Where is everybody?" I ask.
Mrs. M says they're all inside, "watching the Superb Ohl".
"Ohl? Who's Ohl? And why is he superb?" I ask.
"Well, it's kind of hard to explain to a non-human," says Mrs. M, "but.... Wait a minute. What did you just say?"
"Never mind," I say kindly. "Don't strain yourself. I'll just Gurgle it."
So I pull out my T-phone. ("Where'd that come from? I don't remember crocheting you a phone," says Mrs. M. "I ordered it from The Amazon, of course," I say. "You mean Amazon?" she says. "THE Amazon," I say. "You know, the river? South America? It's where all the reptiles shop for devices.")
Then I open the Turtle Wiki app to see what it says about "Superb Ohl". Here's what I find:
The Superb Ohl is generally considered to be chief in the pantheon of American "sporting" deities. According to popular legend, he appears one Sunday every winter at a chosen temple (or "stadium") to preside over rites of celebration and receive the praise of his worshippers ("fans"). During the sacred ceremonies, two groups of acolytes (called "teams"), who have striven for months to be judged worthy of attending, enact a fierce mock battle which includes the passing about of a holy object ("the pigskin"), while the assembled worshippers shout their approval.
These celebrations are not limited to the "stadium" and its environs; worshippers may bow from afar at one of the many electronic altars erected in houses, feeding places, and watering holes across the nation. Indeed, the annual appearance of Superb Ohl is an occasion of national rejoicing, and American humans generally honor his presence by devoting an entire day to the consumption of ritual food and drink (such as chicken wings, pizza, and beer). This feasting is often accompanied by lively discussion and/or dispute regarding the comparative worthiness of the acolytes partaking in the ceremony.There's plenty more where that came from, but I've seen enough.
"Wow," I say. "Humans are weird."
"Yes," says Mrs M. "Yes. We are."
We reach the end of the street, turn a corner, climb over a snowbank, and we're on the trail. I don't know why Mrs. M likes this view so much - it just looks like snow and tree branches to me - but she does. So she takes a picture of it:
Aaand more snow - Mrs. M says it reminds her of mountain ranges seen from an airplane window:
Speaking of airplane journeys: "How far are we going?" I ask.
"A good long ways," she says. ("And I thought this would be a quiet walk," she mutters to herself. "Hey! I heard that!" I say.)
Here's a group of tree trunks she seems to find fascinating:
And here's a nice muddy section of trail:
"Why are you taking a picture of a muddy trail?" I say.
"It's not about the mud," she says. "It's about the way the trail curves through the woods, beckoning us on to places unknown."
(I know what's on the other side of that wood. A field. A big, empty field. But I try not to burst her bubble.)
She looks up and catches a glimpse of the moon, and stares at it like she's never seen it before. Then (you guessed it) out comes the camera:
On we trudge, for hours it seems. ("That's because you run on turtle time," says Mrs. M.)
"How about a photo of ME for a change?" I say. "You might let me climb that branch over there."
I strike a noble pose:
"Now let me take your photo," I say.
"No offense, Tallulah," she says, "but how can you hold the camera? It's bigger than you are, and kind of heavy...."
Turns out she's right. But I give it my best shot (photography pun!):
(Okay, so it's not an award-winning photo. What can I say? The sun was in my eyes.) And onwards we go.
One thing about Mrs. M - she knows what she likes. And she really likes this line of trees, especially with the sun going down behind them:
Which is why she takes their photo for about the thousandth time.
We cross the last field, turn right at the fence, walk under the bare branches and over the snowbank, and find ourselves back on the neighborhood streets. Then (finally) we're home, where I resolve to stay awake long enough to write this blog post before turning in for some well-deserved shuteye.
And that's it for the Quietest Walk of the Year.
P.S. Yes, it did take me two days to write this post. Tiny turtle + human size keyboard = very slow writing.
P.P.S. The walk didn't seem all that quiet to me (apart from the first few minutes or so), and I said as much to Mrs. M when she tucked me into my basket this evening. "I thought it would be quiet," she said. "Superb Ohl Sunday walks usually are. But for some reason this year was different." Then she gave me kind of a funny look, but I was yawning too hard to care. Goodnight, everyb....
(sound of turtle snoring)
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