On saving a turtle and other unwritten stories

On Sunday, I was pedaling my bicycle south on Bandera Highway outside of Kerrville, Texas, heading for the turnoff to Wharton Road, which would take me to Center Point River Road, across the Guadalupe River—if not so much water was spilling over the two lanes of asphalt that I had to turn around and not drown, as I had a couple of days before.

Up ahead I saw a white pickup truck pulled over on the shoulder of the road. A woman walked back towards me, briskly and with purpose. After a couple more cranks of the pedals I glimpsed a turtle near the white paint marking the edge of the lane. The critter had made it nearly across the road. (Why did the turtle cross the road? Shell if I know.)

My front tire cleared the turtle by a couple of feet.  Slowing as I coasted closer to the woman, I asked: “Are you gonna go rescue that turtle?” “Yes,” she said.

“Bless you,” seemed about the right thing to say in response, before I resumed my cadence, and continued down the highway.

The brief glance I caught was enough to convince me it was a handsome turtle, with enough charisma to cause someone to pull their pickup truck over to rescue it. But I had neither notepad nor camera along, so I didn’t try to document the rescue in a journalistic way. I guess it probably had a happy ending—not far from there is a stream named Turtle Creek.

It’s a story that won’t be written, at least not by me. It’s no tragedy. There’s plenty more little stories in little places across America that won’t be written down.

When I drove 1,100 miles from Fort Pierre, South Dakota, down to Kerrville, Texas, last month, one of the first places I drove past was Murdo. It’s a place where I’m sure a lot of stories have not been written down. But one story out of Murdo is one that I wrote down for the Pierre Capital Journal last year—it was about an invitational basketball tournament that’s been held for a half century: “More than a leather ball in an iron hoop

The drive to Texas took me south from Murdo to a place called White River, still in South Dakota. It’s a place where Army Sgt. Phillip J. Iyotte, who died in the Korean War, was buried about a year ago.  That’s another story I wrote about a little place: “Army Sgt. Philip J. Iyotte: Finally home again in South Dakota

The drive to Texas led me past hundreds of little places. I’m sure all of them have stories, but only some will ever be written down. That’s OK. Not every turtle makes it across the road.

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