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Papa Joe  ~  Biographical Stories

From: "Papa Joe"

To: "Storytell group"

Sent: Thursday, January 08,998:31 AM

Subject: Re: Turtle Stories


You know I live at the edge of the deep deep woods. I should say lived. Though I live in the same place the woods are no longer deep, never mind deep deep. As a youngster, I lived in those woods when ever I could. As deep as deep can be.

Once on a mid Summer morning, I wander out into the woods alone. I had nothing with me and wore only a pair of shorts. Noon found me at a colonial farm site. Nothing left, but the holes. One of the holes was a deep, narrow, Stone Well. The sun shone straight down the shaft. At the bottom, I could see something.

I didn't know what it was. It didn't look like much. Maybe just a stone that might have fell from the side wall. A shadowy oval shape among shadowy oval shapes. And what ever made me think I could climb down there - where no one had gone since the stones were laid two hundred years before. But that object seemed to call me. I never even though about walking away. I did worry about getting in and out. Parts of the wall looked ready to fall. As the son of a stone mason, I could see the pressure of the earth had been pushing on the stone sides.

I was just a slip of a boy. Small enough to fit in the hole, barely inches wide. It was easy enough to find foot and hand holds to make my way down the shaft - at least twelve feet deep into the earth. I could no longer see below me as my body now blocked the sunlight. Nor could I bend as the hole was too narrow. I slid through the cobwebs and tried not to think about who else might be living down in this place. As I reached the bottom and looked up, the sun moved out of view.� In the blue sky shone tiny points of lights.

At my feet were cool smooth stones and one thing more. It was warmer than the others, as if the few minutes of noon time sun had warmed it alone. I pressed my back and knees against the wall and picked up the object with my feet. It was very light. Somehow, I managed to lift it high enough to reach for it with a hand. Then I knew what it was. A turtle shell.

I slipped the shell into my shorts for I needed both hands and feet to climb. I climbed out of the earth, back into the sunshine and looked at my prize. A spotted turtle, not long dead, in perfect condition. I didn't know what to do with it. It smelled too. Then I saw a hollow in an old Oak Tree. A Tree that had been growing for most of the years during the life of the Well. I thought of it as the guardian of the Well. So I put the shell into it's hollow and let it guard that too.

It was mid Winter before I returned to that place. The Well, Tree, and shell were untouched. The shell was clean now. The tiny creatures who lived with Oak had taken care of it for me. I put it in my coat pocket and brought it home. Here it sits today, on the shelf before my desk. A rare spotted turtle shell. But that's not the end of the story.

The next Spring, I past the place again, but this time everything was gone. Cellar hole, Well, Trees, all. Bulldozed in for a new house site, out in the middle of my deep deep woods. The end had begun, nine months from my finding the Shell. Nine months after my journey through the Well.

Pax & Amicitia,

Papa Joe

Papa Joe  ~  Biographical Stories

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