Last night I was unable to sleep due to several things that were going through my mind. The ruckus going on in my apartment around 5:30 AM convinced me that I would be unable to sleep even if I tried. So to clear up my mind and I to tire myself out ( so that I could sleep later) I packed my road bike in the back of my car and headed out to Oak Mountain State Park. I reached there around 6:15 AM and was surprised to see that several other cyclists were in the middle of their workouts already.
If we start biking at the park entrance, a bike route goes 7 miles before you have to turn around. Now as I was on the last downhill towards the end of this 7 mile route, I noticed a tiny tortoise in the middle of the road, utterly confused. There were quite a few cars, trucks and campers passing along that road and its quite likely that if the tortoise had run out of luck, it would have been run over by some automobile. I was going at nearly 30 mph on the downhill and it was impossible for me to stop suddenly. So I went ahead and finished the ~0.2 mile descent and turned around as fast as I could. I was afraid that some vehicle was going to crush that tiny little tortoise before I got to it. So I pedaled as hard and fast as I could and was slightly relieved when I saw the toroise still trying to decide where it wanted to go.
As soon as I reached next tot he tortoise, I threw my bike on the gravel by the road and sprinted to the middle of the road and picked it up and brought it to the side.
Here are some pictures of the tortoise I took on my cell phone camera once I brought it safely to the side of the road.
It looked so cute, I wanted to wrap it in my towel and toss it into my backpack and bring it home as my pet. But then reason took over. The state park, and some of it’s water bodies was this tortoises home. This is where it belonged. Sure I would pamper it and take good care of it. But having a tortoise is a lifelong commitment. They have a life span of around 100 years or so. The answers to these questions were clear. I wasn’t ready for a pet that would outlive me. More importantly, taking it away from its home and its own ecosystem was not the right thing to do. Even though I had saved it from getting crushed underneath a vehicle, it didn’t give me the right to own a creature that was meant to live free. So with a heavy heart I did what I believe was the right thing to do: set it free in a safer place than the side of the road.
I know I would never see this tortoise ever again, but the memories will stay with me for a long long time. The sight of this creature walking away slowly was one of the finest sights I’ve had for the past several months.
This thought of having saved a little tortoise soon helped clear out all my thoughts that were keeping me up last night. With my mind all clear, I went on to do 6 laps of this 7 mile route, completing 42 miles in about 2:40 hours. Then I got back home and slept peacefully for the entire afternoon.
So this is the story. I guess the act of saving an animal helps me reclaim some of the green karma points I have lost on account of buying a SUV. I still have a long way to go to bring my green karma points out of the red, but every step counts and this was a pretty big one I suppose.