Deb's Newsletter Signup


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Gaggle of Turtles Crossed The Road

On each leg of this odyssey I have encountered souls on varying levels of the same journey. Gabrielle was miles ahead of me and yet on the same page. She had already read the book but was rereading a chapter at the same time I was entering that realm of existence.

We had had several sessions when she started to ask questions about what type of massage I was doing, since it didn’t really resemble what she had experienced in the past. “Well, it’s kind of a combo. I mix in a little of this and a little of that, depending upon what your body tells me.” She looked at me silently for a moment. “I see turtles whenever we work together. Not like flying from the ceiling, but whenever I close my eyes I see turtles. What’s with you and turtles?” My thoughts flashed to the series of turtles I had seen in the last few weeks.

It seemed like every time I was driving in my car I was in the position of saving the life of a turtle. I’d come upon an intersection and a turtle would be trying to cross the street while cars were dodging the little guy as he slowly dashed in and out of traffic. I’d find myself pulling off to the side of the road and trying to time my own path between the speeding cars to grab the turtle from an imminent and gruesome death.

 My relationship with turtles was not only in the life saving realm, I was also the unfortunate co-owner of three box turtles. At the age of five my kids were pestering my husband and I for another dog since Bonni wasn’t like the dogs other kids had. Bonni was more like an older sister who didn’t allow her younger siblings to play in her room. She had the uniquely teen-ish behavior of completely ignoring someone to the point of making them cease to exist; therefore the kids felt the need to have a “real” dog. Bill and I understood that the new dog would be our dog with occasional assists from the twins. We opted to buy box turtles. For the record, do not ever follow our direction; turtles live a very long time. The fact that these hard shelled creatures could out live my future grandchildren was something I learned after our "easy" pet purchase.
 We bought our two turtles at a pet store for the kids’ birthday. They were named Hardshell and Daisy, with the belief that one was male and the other female. Hardshell promptly died three days after his arrival. Hardshell II was brought home and he “ran away” from a fenced enclosure we set up in our yard. This turtle scaled a fence and made a mad dash to a wet land area or he was airlifted by a passing hawk. My children prefer the story of how Hardshell escaped from Alcatraz. And thus Hardshell III was introduced to Daisy shortly thereafter. What must Daisy have thought of her revolving roommate situation?

 After a few years, three Hardshells and various life or death turtle experiences, we became known as turtle experts by teachers and school children alike. At the end of one school year, a teacher at my children’s school asked us to look after the classroom turtle over the break. “What was one more turtle?” I asked myself. To conserve space “Speedy” was put in with the other turtles for the 12 weeks and they all appeared to get along about as well as turtles appear to get along. The night before Speedy was to return to the classroom we placed him in his old cage. The poor little guy curled up into his shell and refused to come out. Our two turtles crawled over towards the glass wall facing Speedy’s cage and just looked…all night long. Who knew that turtles had feelings? With the prospect of broken hearted turtles looming on the horizon, we decided to allow Speedy to join our turtle cult.

 During the warm months we housed the turtles in a deep tree well in our yard. One morning during a walk with our dog Bella, (Bonni had been gone for about 8 months),  I noticed what looked like a palm sized rock on our brick pathway. It was Hardshell lying on his back struggling to right himself. The funny thing about seeing something that defies expectations, there is always a pause as one’s brain struggles to process what surely cannot be so. Hardshell was lying in front of me and his home was 5 feet below ground level. After the first runaway turtle episode I was wondering whether turtles had an unknown physical ability on the scale of flying. As I pondered with my 46 year old brain I began to move slowly to other possibilities. A hawk or an owl would not be able to fit their wing span in the deep cavern and I didn’t think a coyote would work that hard for a turtle. Finally the brain fibers connected and I arrived at the probability of a raccoon being the culprit. I picked up the either very scared or very pissed turtle and placed him back into the enclosure. He was quite damp from what was probably rabies infested spit and I told Hardshell III that his possum act had been a very wise strategy. Speedy was peeking out from under a rock formation we had made for the shelled family, but Daisy wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

After ten years of raising these turtles I had come to know a few things about their individual habits. Speedy could as his moniker illustrated, move pretty darn fast for a turtle. Daisy was nothing like her name. She as we had probably incorrectly assumed was more likely a he and had a very bad attitude. Daisy had bitten off Hardshell’s tail and terrorized the poor guy incessantly. The misnamed turtle also had a craving for freedom. Of all the turtles Daisy was continually on the lookout for an escape, possibly due to his close proximity to the freedom march of the turtle escapee. Hardshell was always the more mild mannered of the three but had become increasingly shy after Daisy’s attacks and was more prone to being “closed up” in his shell.

I dug around the entire enclosure looking for Daisy after the raccoon raid and finally came to the conclusion that Daisy was either hooked up with Hardshell II or gruesomely being attacked by the raccoon family living in the viaduct under our driveway. Knowing Daisy so well, I guessed he’s on the way to fathering a couple of baby box turtles and left at least one raccoon scarred for life.

 I gamely smiled at Gabrielle, “Boy do I know turtles”. She laughed at my stories and we assumed this was some odd moment of mind melding on the scope of Spock in Star Trek. A few years later we found that this first discussion of turtles was actually setting the stage and connecting the dots for another more difficult task.  We had finished a treatment and were getting ready to say our good byes, but I noticed that Gabrielle looked a little lost so I asked her what was going on.
 “I’m not sure, but The Universe was trying to tell me something. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.” Gabrielle is usually very forthcoming about the messages she receives during our sessions, so I figured it must have been pretty obscure for her not to elaborate further.

A few days later she called me during her vacation to Florida.
“Aren’t you on a beach and why are you calling me when you should be relaxing?” I asked after answering the call.
“The turtles won’t shut up and if I don’t tell you something I won’t be left alone to enjoy the rest of my trip.” She responded in a very agitated voice. Between regular people this would sound like a crazy conversation, but Gabrielle and I were getting used to our wacky shorthand.
“Turtles are talking?” I asked. She followed an exasperated snort with,
“First there were turtle visions and now my dad handed me a blow up turtle for the kids and then a turtle walked through their yard. I got a message the other day with you and I was uncomfortable telling you about it and ever since then there have been turtles everywhere. I figure that if I tell you what I’m supposed to tell you the turtles will give it up,” now breathless she stopped speaking. Cautiously I said,
“Okay, let me hear it.” A few, what seemed like thousand beats later she quietly said, “What about the drinking?”

Ouch, that was unexpected and yet not. Not, because I had been obsessing about my latest trend of drinking away my feelings and The Universe was very canny about hitting my newest sweet spot. Ouch because I wasn’t really keen on telling people I liked to drink for its anesthetizing qualities. There was silence on the line as we both waited for how this was going to play itself out.

“Gabrielle, you can tell me anything, no matter how personal. And I needed to hear that.” Telling her I was okay with her revelations brought a sigh of relief from her.
“I was worried that you might feel uncomfortable with this and I kept telling myself that I would be crossing a line by saying something so personal.” I responded with,
“What’s up with turtles?” We both laughed and vowed to keep ourselves open to those moments that involved The Great Shelled Ones.

No comments: