Three years ago I bought Karisse a Sulcata Tortoise. She was about 5 inches from nose to tail. Now she is fully a foot long and probably weighs ten pounds. When she poops she leaves piles twice as large as our dogs! We have come to call her “the dinosaur.” Sulcata Tortoises are from sub-Saharan Africa. They do not take cold weather well, in fact, a freeze could kill her, even as large as she is. So far, she has wintered in the house, but now she is large enough we have to make other provisions. Last night I installed a “turtle house” in the yard with a heat lamp in it. The brick floor will absorb the head of the lamp and give her a place to escape the cold. If it really gets wintry we’ll have to figure out something else.
It’s a lot of bother, but in a sense, it serves us right. If we had been satisfied with the local desert tortoises we wouldn’t have to worry. They burrow underground and sleep through the cold months. But no, we had to get something exotic, and it takes exotic management of the environment to make it OK for her. It’s an odd partnership. But do we not have such odd partnerships all around? Cattle replace bison. Wheat replaces corn. Apple trees, lawns in the southwest, cities in the desert, roads across cliff faces, it’s all around us. We could even say that white people adapted to northern Europe, replace brown people, adapted to this climate. And we go to exotic efforts to “make it work.”
One exception comes to mind. God is native to the human soul and to all of creation. If accommodation of the Ground of Existence in our living feels exotic it is not due to the exotic nature of the partnership, but our own unexotic ideas of ourselves. Perhaps when we finally get it right within, the sense of “coming home” is among the truest things we ever feel.