Turtle Club

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Susan's first turtle, "Ed"

As a youngster, I practically lived in the out-of-doors. I learned to snow ski, water ski and ride horses. The country was my passion and I became an enthusiastic fisherman and advocate for the preservation of wildlife and wildlife habitat. My parents used to laugh at me because I always had a squirrel in a net, fish in a bucket, toads in a box, or snakes in a can. I remember receiving a hunting knife, hatchet and fishing gear for Christmas when I was 12 or 13 years old, which makes me chuckle to know how unusual those gifts were for a girl that age.

I am sure those experiences influenced my unusual academic interests after high school. The vioIin and animals of all sorts have always been a constant. Zoology, however, led to nursing, which led to human anatomy, kinesiology, neuroscience and cognition. The study of music performance drifted into art, poetry, 17th century literature and cultural anthropology – all of which have augmented my understanding of learning and teaching. This fact still amazes me today.

When my children were growing up, our home was shared with a variety of creatures - the usual dogs and cats, but also ducks, rabbits, tarantulas, tadpoles, crabs, guinea pigs, frogs, toads, ants and fish. It is still a point of amusement with friends and family when a spider is found in the house, because it must be corralled in a paper cup and put outside – except for black widows, which meet their doom immediately!

Turtles came when my daughter and her husband decided to move to a rural community outside Albuquerque. In preparation for their move, they had their old home xeri-scaped, which means a lot of rocks were put down. The day after all the rocks had been placed, she saw a turtle wandering back and forth in her driveway. It was understandable, since the new landscaping had probably destroyed his home. She called me on the phone and said, “Mom, I am bringing a turtle over to your house, you’re going to love it!” Thus, “Ed” arrived. About two days later, she called again, and told me that another turtle was wandering in her driveway and her dog was playing with it. “Little Girl” arrived that afternoon.

Realizing that my knowledge of turtles was lacking, I looked up the Rio Grande Turtle and Tortoise Club and gave them a call. After an interview, they agreed to come do a yard inspection and promptly sent me home with three rescued turtles.

I have had a wonderful time creating habitat areas in the yard, and love to see where the turtles decide to hang out. I also have added a new house “pet”….two plastic tubs of meal worms….with all three generations: larvae, beetles and worms wriggling and crawling inside.

Each meeting of the turtle club is like a new chapter of a book I am dying to read. I am learning so much, and love being a student again. Besides, I feel a real interest in these turtles, and when I retire, I will have much more time to spend with my backyard buddies!

Photographs of Susan Kempter's Bisiach courtesy of Robertson & Sons Violin Shop