Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Cabbages, with Digressions Upon Turtles and Road Kill

I frequently eat raw red cabbage and find it, well, not quite delicious, but certainly tasty. I like that it doesn't spoil quickly if refrigerated.

Over the weekend, some green cabbage caught my eye and I realized I hadn't tried any green cabbage in a while. It also called to mind the only memory of green cabbage I can claim --- that the cabbage rows were always among the most popular spots in my grandmother's large garden, attracting both rabbits and box turtles. In the course of the research for this important blog post, a passage from the latter's wikipedia article has quite unhorsed me:

North American box turtles are omnivores. Their sharp eyes and keen sense of smell help them in finding food such as snails, insects, berries, fungi, slugs, worms, roots, flowers, fish, frogs, salamanders, various rodents, snakes, birds, and eggs. During their first five to six years, the young are primarily carnivorous while they grow. Adults tend to be mostly herbivorous, but they do not eat green leaves. Box turtles have been known to eat road-kill. Babies and young turtles need more protein and prefer a carnivorous diet, and then include more and more plant matter as they get older.[emphasis mine]
If juvenile box turtles prefer a carnivorous diet, and if adult box turtles won't eat green leaves, what the hell were all those box turtles I found doing amid granny's green cabbage leaves? Were they waiting to ambush the rabbits? Were they hoping to ambush me?

More alarming: "box turtles have been known to eat road-kill." I am pleased to say I have never witnessed this ghastly sight. In my experience with road kill -- and it is voluminous -- box turtles tend to be road kill, especially in the springtime, when the change in season infects them with delusions about the speed with which they can cross roads. And if you've never been in a vehicle that passes over and flattens a box turtle, producing a very distinctive sound and feeling ... well, it follows you've never been in a passenger vehicle in rural Oklahoma in the springtime.

Anyway, I now know why I wasn't already in the habit of buying green cabbage and eating it raw, which is presumably why adult box turtles regard it as nothing more than cover from which to ambush rabbits: it doesn't taste good.

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