Sunny Day, Sunning Turtles

Walking an allee in the tiered Terrace Garden at Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Durham, NC. (Photo by: Beatrix Yaxley 2011)

Walking an allee in the Terrace Garden at Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Durham, NC. (Photographer: Beatrix Yaxley, 2011)

I never grow tired of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University in Durham, NC.  The 55-acre public space offers five miles of paths and walkways and is a combination of designed landscaping and natural wooded areas. Obvious as well as less obvious seating grace the grounds to provide unique views of the trees and plants, the fish and waterfowl…and the turtles.

The turtles are so silly, although they don’t mean to be.  As they bask—sometimes stacked two and three high—on the rocks, they make people smile, point, and chuckle.  The natural antics of these hard-shelled reptiles compel complete strangers to converse, and for a brief moment the whole world seems in harmony.  Then the turtles stir, slip into the pond, and that moment of tranquility becomes a pleasant memory.

Turtles bask in the sun to raise their body temperatures (ideally between 60 to 95 degrees), which in turn helps with muscle movement and food digestion.

Turtles bask in the sun to raise their body temperatures (ideally to between 60-95 degrees F), which in turn helps with muscle movement and food digestion.

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