As the days grew longer and the sun stronger, in quiet moments Chili and Somethingorother could be found basking in the spill of sunshine on the wood floor of the living room. There was a large, south facing window there. The spring sunshine was warm and glorious. The first time I encountered this, I thought they were having some desperately horrible fit. There they were, side by side in the centre of a pool of sunlight, with necks stretched out longer than seemed possible, front legs stretched equally impossibly long, with claws pointing towards their tails, and hind legs dangling straight behind.
I'd never seen so much turtle outside of a shell. Those long, limp, skinny limbs looked unnatural, and their eyes were shut. They looked like they were unconscious. How, I wondered in mortal anguish, do you resuscitate a turtle? But they spared me that - they heard me coming, in my panicked rush to save them from whatever horrors they were suffering, peeled sleepy eyelids back and lazily lifted their heads off the floor to turn stupified gazes on me. By now I had some experience with turtle body language. The closest description of the expressions on their faces is 'drunken stupor'. They looked totally stoned, man. And that's how they spent sunny afternoons, if the house was quiet and there were no human obstacles to avoid. Stoned on sunlight.
On one afternoon, after a sleepless night, I lay down on the couch in the living room, which faced the sunny south window and had free access from all sides. I dozed off comfortably in the warm sunshine. Some time later I was awakened by a strange shuffling and thumping. As I looked about me, gathering my wits, Chili came into view around the foot of the couch, at a brisk turtle trot. He hurried along the length of it, and took the corner by my head, around to the back of the couch, where the sounds continued until he came around the corner at my feet again. He was doing laps around the couch! Meanwhile Somethingorother lay with his chin on the floor marinating in the heat of the sunbeam, grinning stupidly, ignoring the action. I didn't count the laps, but this went on for 15 or 20 minutes before Chili joined his partner in the sun. Chili did this periodically, when he thought no one was watching, but his buddy had no interest in marathon training. Who'da thunk a turtle would be into fitness?
They both had a fondness for books and magazines. As I shared their biblio love, there were a good many bookshelves holding a good many books about the place. When the mood took one of them, he would amble over to a shelf of choice, and proceed to check a few books out of the library. He'd do this by wedging himself between one edge of the shelf and the book nearest it, sometimes sideways, almost as if he were inserting himself in there like a book. Then he'd work himself between the book and the shelf until he had his head between the back of the bookshelf and the open-able end of the book. He'd turn a corner in there somehow, working his head behind all of the books all along the bottom shelf, moving sideways with one set of legs down, and the other up, until he'd checked them all out and had them displayed for his reading convenience on the floor. When there was no longer resistance from any books, he'd wobble down onto his belly and sit on the bottom shelf of the book case, surveying the literary selection spread out before him. It was pretty amazing how much the two of them could read in an afternoon.