7 May 1858

by layman k

I see a wood tortoise by the river there, half covered with the old withered leaves. taking it up, I find that it must have lain perfectly still there for some weeks, for though the grass is all green about it, when I take it up, it leaves just such a bare cavity, in which are seen the compressed white roots of the grass only, as when you take up a stone. This shows how sluggish these creatures are. It is quite lively when I touch it, but I see that it has some time lost the end of its tail, and possibly it has been sick. Yet there was another crawling about within four or five feet. It seems, then, that it will lie just like a stone for weeks immovable in the grass. It lets the season slide

from the journals of Henry David Thoreau