My recent visit to Mackinac Island in Michigan rekindled my fascination with turtles.

The legend of Mackinac Island recalls that when the world was very young a turtle was lured north to a spot between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.  As winter arrived the turtle stayed there and eventually the turtle grew into an island, which the Anishinaabe tribal nation named Machilimackinac (the Great Turtle).  The turtle is a sacred figure in their culture.  here i am standing next to one of their burial grounds.

Eventually the name got shortened to Mackinac.  The island, when seen from above and from the side, does resemble the shape of a turtle.

I have collected turtles (not live ones) for some time.  I now have a collection of over 50 turtles which come from locations all over the world.

What started my obsession with turtles, you may ask.  It goes back some 40 years ago, when I was at a retreat, participating in a session lead by a therapist.  The room that we were in had shelves on each wall filled with miniatures of animals.  She asked me and the others in the room to pick an animal.  I chose a turtle.

Why a turtle?  I was impressed by how the turtle could be so effective in defending itself from danger, from predators.  It has a hard shell that is impenetrable.  the turtle can retract its head and its four feet into the shell so that nothing is exposed.  It can withdraw into its shell.  It is sturdy.

Some see turtles as symbolizing easy going, slow paced, patience and wisdom.

At the same time, a turtle can move, albeit slowly. The sea turtle in particular is surprisingly mobile. Turtles have long lifespans, ranging from 40-75 years for some turtles to a few tortoises in the Galapagos Islands that have lived for 180 years.  They persevere.  They are determined.  They are resolute.

For some reason I have a fascination with turtles. I feel some kind of connection with them.

To some extent my fascination with turtles runs in the family.  My grandson Danny, who is graduating from college next month, had a live Russian tortoise named Squirt, which he kept in a terrarium in his bedroom for 8 years. Squirt required a heat lamp for 24 hours a day.

My youngest grandson, Henry, who is 3 and a half years old, is fascinated by what he calls tortugas.  His nanny is Columbian and speaks to Henry in Spanish.  So whenever Henry sees a turtle, he yells out tortuga!

Bottom line.  We need to brake for turtles.  Some 129 of the 300 species of turtles are endangered.  My grandsons, the Anishinaabe tribal nation, and myself will be thankful you did so.

Turtle xing – sign seen by the road



4 thoughts on “Turtles”

  1. While living in Florida we were always aware of protecting the sea turtles. Our family did several night time walks with naturalists as it neared their hatching time to help guide them to the ocean. The lights from the streets would attract them in that direction rather than the sea. Many volunteers work very hard to protect them during this season.
    A turtle is a also called honu. I believe that means longevity. They are displayed all over Hawaii. Our daughter and so in law named their sailboat Honu.
    As we are traveling in our motorhome at present, we are kind of like turtles taking our home with us🤗

  2. In Missouri, two regular box turtles in the basement were a must if you like your lower home bug free.

    We always had one or two and they lived long and productive lives. One named Zeke had a memorable personality.

  3. I thought it was because you live in a mobile home and a house boat. And so can carry your house (shell) wherever you want to travel.

  4. One of my favorite sayings is an anonymous quote, “Consider the turtle, who only gets anywhere when it sticks it’s neck out.”

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