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April 12, 2021

Spring is in full bloom and attention has turned to Lawrence of Arabia, our desert tortoise. We quietly welcomed her when she came out of her five-and-a-half-month-long hibernation on March 22. Like clockwork, she usually emerges earlier in the month, but perhaps the week-long cold spell we had the few weeks before confused her.

Lawrence of Arabia - Desert Tortoise with clay masks

Or maybe she was hoping for the pandemic to be over.

She is out in full force now, after her typically slow awakening: First, she comes out of the closet for a little while, then returns to her dark corner for another few days. Then she comes out again for longer periods walking around the house. That’s when I put her in a shallow pool of water in the tub so that she can start hydrating again and waking up her organs.

It was time to remind the gardener not to trim the ivy at the bottom as Lawrence takes refuge underneath the leafy canopy when she’s ready to snooze. And after reacquainting herself with three den options, she found her way down “Lawrence’s Alley” to her favorite one that stays cool on the hottest summer days.

Lawrence's Alley - Desert Tortoise den and refuge from hot summer days

Yesterday, Louie took a long walk and returned with yellow dandelion flowers that he had picked for Lawrence. From his pocket he brought out a handful for me to put in Lawrence’s enclosed yard, which we keep as a natural habitat. We don’t pull the dry weeds because they are nutritious for Lawrence – and which we supplement with salads of greens like carrot tops, spinach, mulberry leaves, grass and more. Rose petals, also on her food list, are her favorite.

I looked at last year’s photos when Lawrence woke up. Her yard was green and lush following lots of rain. This year, though, drought conditions have left the yard dry.

But Lawrence can weather it – she’s a desert tortoise!

This is your country, and it’s up to you to save it.” – English translation of a saying in Taiwan

Washing Hands + Wearing a Mask + Social Distancing = Saving Lives


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I'd love to meet Lawrence someday. I have so many questions to ask about him. Do you have to worry about predators, like coyotes, when's outside in the yard? How did he and Lola get along? Is he looking for her?

Athena Lucero
Athena Lucero
Apr 13, 2021
Replying to

Hi Maria, Actually, Lawrence is a girl! We acquired Lawrence from Louie's business friend who was moving to San Francisco. When we took Lawrence for a check up at the vet, we discovered that she was a girl! But we kept her name. Fortunately, our back yard has high fences so she is safe from predators. Let's just say that Lola tolerated Lawrence. Lola no longer feared Lawrence as she did when she was a puppy. Instead, whenever she saw Lawrence walking around the house, Lola had the "Oh, brother, it's her again" look! Quite funny. And we'll never know if Lawrence remembers Lola, but she probably does, just as she recognizes us and perks up when she hears our…

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