I've always had a soft spot in my heart for reptiles, which is how as a teenager I found myself with a job feeding all the snakes, lizards, and turtles at a science center here in Berkeley. More recently, I've been reading Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, by Verlyn Klinkenborg. The East Bay Vivarium is only one block away from Castle in the Air, and when I started haunting their aisles of pythons, frogs, and sweetest little newborn turtles, I felt a bad case of tortoise fever coming on.
I found myself going back again and again to see these ancient-looking animals, with their ponderous movements and wise faces. I especially liked the leopard tortoise babies, so small one would fit in the palm of my hand. At night I would dream about them! As much as I tried to shake it, the tortoise fever grew and before long I knew it was just a matter of time before I took one of them home.
About a week ago I gave in and admitted to myself (and anyone who would listen) that I was going to adopt one of the adorable leopard tortoises. The same day, picture after picture of giant tortoises started appearing on my desk at Castle in the Air. One came on the cover of a new book by Julie Morstad (ABC, pictured above). Mr. Marsh was reading another book (Alice's Adventures in Jurisprudencia, by Peter Sloss, below) that had a similar illustration. Talk about mentalist manifestations!
Before I knew it, I was the proud new parent of one of the leopards. Casanova lives in a specially designed and heated house in our kitchen. I feed him every morning and give him his bath and he is delightful to watch. There's something about how he wakes up and opens one eye, then takes twenty minutes to open his second eye, that reminds me there are always new perspectives about how to meet the day. I'm sure you'll be hearing more about him in the days to come!