It was just after 5:00pm and I was worried I might have missed my window to visit with Old-Man Tortoise-Shell (who retires each night well before sundown), but there he was, meandering towards us from across the orchard with (what I perceived to be) expectant eyes. His slow crawl came to a halt when he saw me approaching and heard me break out in baby-talk, which I need to acknowledge, is an involuntary reflex of which I have no control. Seriously. How can you NOT be enchanted by these sweet little guys and their crazy-beautiful, God-given shells?
Hunkering right down next to him, Old-Man Tortoise-Shell didn't really pay much attention to me, even when I scratched at his shell, which seems almost laughable now...he is not a dog.
I hung out with him a bit to watch him eat and slowly make his way towards his bed (a dog house of sorts, complete with a doggy-door). And even though I hovered over him with annoying enthusiasm, talking to him and scratching at his shell and the top of head, he just went on with his business. I laughed at his ability to just Keep Calm and Carry On; surely, a peaceful existence.
When Old-Man Tortoise-Shell finally crawled into his bed and said goodnight, I laughed at the lesson he left behind: Slow and Steady Wins The Race. There I was, buzzing around him, touching him and talking at him, interrupting his peaceful evening walk through the orchard and getting all up in his personal bubble, but still, he maintained his focus and didn't once stray from the path.
I could learn a few things from Old-Man Tortoise-Shell; when life gets noisy and distracting, I need to stay focused and keep my eyes on the goal. Slow and steady.