Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Silently, so silently

If you've ever met me at one of the shows, you know my love of sea turtles.

I was in a lean-to tent in the Philippines at night on the beach when a sea turtle came in to nest. I was trying to go to bed like my mother told me, (and being a military kid you'd better listen!) She was on the beach with the villagers and my father was night diving. I went dutifully to my beach towel and tried turning my back to the light from the burning barrel that guided the divers back to the beach. I felt sand flip on my back, and thinking someone else came in, did not turn over. The next time I felt sand, I still did not turn over, but said "Hey you're getting sand on me!" When it happened yet a third time, I turned over to give the person a piece of my small mind. (I was about 7 at the time). I said "Would you please stop!" Barely getting the words out of my mouth, I ran to my mother and told her the event playing itself out in the tent. She did not really believe me and thought I was simply dreaming. After some convincing, she went with me back to the tent and saw the mother turtle busily digging her nest. Needless to say, she was surprised to see the mass of turtle taking up half the lean-to area.

I have been privileged to be near these creatures a few time since then. Brief glimpses going under a sailboat in the keys, aquarium experiences, and the turtle hospital in Marathon, Florida. I seem to be fascinated by these beautiful animals and sometimes the encounters are breathtaking. One of the takes your breath away moments was in Tampa Florida at the aquarium. We were in a big room with a wall of glass that was part of one of the bigger tanks. I had spotted a turtle and hoped to get a photograph by carefully placing my lens against the glass. The turtle in question was swimming around and passed me a couple of times. I shifted my stance, trying to be patient and that is when this turtle turned around came back and looked me eye to eye. I frantically photographed, hoping to get a shot. My mother was sitting on the benches behind me and noticed the encounter. I asked her what she thought, and she said the turtle definitely changed course to come back to me. It really did take my breath away! 

More recently, I have have had contacts here on Mobile Bay. My husband bought my a paddle board for my birthday last September (early birthday present). The morning of the set up for Shrimp festival that afternoon I was marveling at the beauty of the bay. I was also amazed to be on the water in the middle of October because it was so warm. The light was absolutely gorgeous, just coming over the ridge of trees on the bluff overlooking the pier. As I was looking under the pier, I saw a juvenile turtle head pop up out of the water, get eye contact with me and then slip beneath the surface. I thanked God for the encounter, and went headlong into my day. I paddle frequently, and most recently had another quiet encounter one morning. I was about halfway through my routine and I look around my board frequently for objects floating in the water. It was at that point of looking by the board that I saw the juvenile again, but this time right next to me! It gulped the breath of air it needed then calmly swim into the depths of the bay. I nearly wept with joy at seeing this little guy, giving me a glimpse of his watery world. 

As a side note, I have asked the other boarders if they have seen them, but they have not. I pay closer attention to the area around my board than most, and it has given me more delightful encounters. I have seen jellyfish, needle fish, jumping mullet, stingray and most recently, a very large fresh water turtle. This turtle is so big, he is not scared of much. He stopped and stared at me for at least 30 seconds as I stared back! I never know what I'll see, and I'll treasure each moment on or in the water.

"Silently, so silently" Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24

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