Betty Duffy

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Science Lesson

Yesterday, I was driving down a country road and came upon a gaggle of children inspecting something on the pavement. Growing up, our road was an extension of our yard. It was our velodrome, our tennis court, our skating rink. We counted on the mercy of the occasional driver to be aware, and respect the life that takes place in the road.

Unfortunately many drivers do not proceed with the required caution. It bugs me when people drive down my road, shrieking their tires. Though I don’t allow my children to play in the front yard, nor anywhere near our street, there’s always a possibility that one of them could wander out there under somebody’s tires. It keeps me in a constant state of alert.

When the children saw me approaching they gathered together on the side of the road. They’d been trained well. Nevertheless, I like to make a point, that I’m a mother, and that I know one of them could dart unexpectedly into my path. I dropped my speed to fifteen, then ten miles an hour, smiling at the kids as they stared at my car. A couple of my kids waved from the rear of my mini-van to the kids on the side of the road.

Strangely, the children all bore an expression of great distress. One of the little ones started crying. Faces, one after another, rumpled as we passed, and then they all ran back out into the road. Seems I squashed a turtle they’d been trying to coax across the street into the drainage ditch, and in slow motion no less. In my rearview, I could see them all doubled over inspecting the turtle guts.


Emily said...

Woe! I think I'm going to cry. Poor turtle. It can play in the great hunting field in the sky with the rabbit I despatched on the way home from Rabbit Hash.

Otepoti said...

Oh! Poor Betty. Poor children. (Not so much the turtle - it's been out of its misery for a while now.)

We once ran over a cat, with a carful of children.

All we can do is try, and, so often, we get it so wrong, despite best intentions. Be of good cheer. Heaven does take intentions into account.

Here's a poem - it might help, a little bit.

“For a Five-Year-Old”
Fleur Adcock

A snail is climbing up the window-sill
into your room, after a night of rain.
You call me in to see and I explain
that it would be unkind to leave it there:
it might crawl to the floor; we must take care
that no one squashes it. You understand,
and carry it outside, with careful hand,
to eat a daffodil.

I see, then, that a kind of faith prevails:
your gentleness is moulded still by words
from me, who have trapped mice and shot wild birds,
from me, who drowned your kittens, who betrayed
your closest relatives and who purveyed
the harshest kind of truth to many another,
But that is how things are: I am your mother,
And we are kind to snails.

TheSeeker said...

Aww so sad!