Long-time readers of the blog may remember my friend Sam Box. For those who don't remember, let me explain that Sam is an Eastern box turtle who first turned up in our backyard some 20 years ago and has lived there ever since, and probably for a long time before. We normally see her off and on through the spring and summer and into the fall, and at some point during her sojourn with us, she started coming to the back porch to cadge dry cat food. After that we saw her more predictably and regularly.
This was how Sam looked a year ago, as she was photographed on our back porch. She has a distinctive patch of damage on her carapace, which she has had for as long as we've known her. That's how we know she is Sam and not some other turtle. (Yes, when my husband named her Sam Box, we thought she was a male; we later decided she was a female.)
Here it is the first of August and so far I haven't seen Sam at all this year. That's not unprecedented. There have been entire years in her history when I haven't seen her only to have her return the next summer, but it is a bit worrying because I've been in the yard a lot and if she's there, it seems that I would have seen her. Nevertheless, I still retain hope that she is out there somewhere and that I'll see her some day soon.
In the meantime, though, look who has showed up.
I was working in the backyard a couple of days ago and happened to look at the back porch to see this fellow "turtling" his way toward the cat food dish. I don't know his name and don't know if he's a relative of Sam's. He, too, has very distintive damage to his carapace so he'll be easy to recognize if I see him again.
This is obviously a fully-grown box turtle with a few years under his shell, a shell that looks very worn, but he looked alert and healthy and he obviously had been told about the dry cat food because he dived right in. I left him in peace to have his snack.
I hope to see Sam soon, but if this is in fact the end of her era, at least it is nice to know that there are still box turtles in the yard to carry on the tradition of "Dinner at the Cat Food Snack Bar".