Ole Red

By: Frankie Roland

Sean loved the house his parents had bought on the edge of town.

I love having a big yard, he thought to himself.

Sean was helping his dad scrape old paint from the lower part of the house so Dad could paint when he saw something moving in the grass. “Well, hello,” he said to a turtle that was watching him. “Do you live here? Has this been your yard?”

The turtle continued to stare. It didn’t act afraid, but it didn’t come any closer either. Sean slowly sat down in the grass, but the turtle stayed where it was. “Are you hungry? I will ask Mom for a snack for you.”

Not knowing what kinds of food the turtle ate, Sean and Mom put some uncooked oats in a saucer and set it in front of the turtle. The turtle stretched his head out and looked at the food but didn’t eat.

“Let’s try a little of Frannie’s cat food,” Mom suggested.

Sean went into the house and took some cat food from the refrigerator and put it into a dish.

The turtle stretched his head out and began to eat. When he finished, he looked first at Sean, then at Mom for more.

“I think you have had enough,” Mom said.

They all watched each other a few more minutes, then Mom went inside and Sean and Dad went back to scraping paint.

“He probably lives nearby and since you fed him, he will be back tomorrow,” Dad said with a chuckle.

All summer the turtle came every day or two and waited at the patio door for someone to notice him and bring his treat. Sean dabbed red paint on his back so the family could identify him. They decided to name him Ole Red.

One morning, Mom went out to her strawberry patch to gather the ripe berries before the birds got to them. Ole Red was there eating the strawberries! She picked him up and went to find Sean. “Take Ole Red down by the creek,” she said.

“Maybe he will like it down there and stop eating my strawberries.”

The next day Ole Red was back, but Mom had already picked the sweet strawberries. He looked up at her, waiting.

“OK, OK,” Mom said, laughing. She put five strawberries on some grass for him.

Ole Red continued to show up each spring, but in the late fall and winter he always disappeared. “Why don’t we see Ole Red in the winter?” Sean asked.

“That is when he hibernates,” Dad explained. “God’s plan is for some animals to sleep through the winter. Bears, squirrels, and skunks do it too.”

One day Dad was doing some early digging in the strawberry patch and hit something hard. That evening he told Sean about it.

“What did you hit?” Sean asked.

“It was Ole Red sleeping through the winter,” Dad said. “I gently covered him back up to finish his winter nap.”

“Isn’t it great the way God cares for animals?” Sean said.

“Yes, and for people too,” Dad added.