Sea Turtles

Day 96 of 365

I think the first time I remember really falling in love with something was when I was about four or five years. My aunt and uncle lived in a beautiful part of southern Florida when I was a little girl. My uncle managed a fancy condominium, and when he and my aunt first moved there, they lived in a tiny apartment on site. This meant they had access to a gorgeous private beach.

The first memory I have of visiting them in Florida was right about the time I was in Kindergarten or about to start Kindergarten. I think it was right before my parents divorced, but I’m not sure. I just remember being very much in love with my aunt and uncle and their apartment on the private beach. It was the most beautiful place in the whole world, as far as I was concerned.

But my aunt did something for me during that visit that very likely changed me as a little human. At the very least, I was so awe inspired that it is one of the most powerful positive memories I have of my whole life. I remember my awe so well, even though it was so long ago.

She got me out of bed and told me to come with her outside. I think she brought my brother too, but I was so little I can’t remember Plus, all of my attention was on her. We walked along a short path to the sea, and it was a full moon. The sky was so bright, and I remember so clearly how the ocean looked lit up and glimmering in the moonlight. I could see so well in the dark night thanks to this brilliant full moon. And, then as we were walking, she suddenly stopped me. She said we couldn’t go down into the sand because the sea turtles were down there.

And, then, I adjusted my eyes and saw it–I could see sea turtles! Some were coming. Some were going. My aunt told me what they were doing and taught me about how the sea turtles would come lay their eggs on the beach and then head back to the ocean. She told me that conservationists would come and put posts around the eggs to protect them, to remind people to stay away from the eggs. I remember being disappointed (with my little selfish self) at first because I wanted to go touch one of the eggs. I guess I was an egg person even then.

But she explained how important it was to protect the sea turtles, that they were endangered. She explained to me what that meant, and I understood and thought it was awesome people were protecting the eggs and the baby turtles. I soaked in the information and the beauty and fell so much in love with the ocean and the sea turtles–and my aunt, of course.

The next morning, she took all of us to the beach and showed me the markers for the sea turtle eggs. I wished I could stay until the baby sea turtles hatched. But I think we stayed only about a week. I would return to Texas, and my life was about to change for the worse. But I held onto that memory–all of these years. It is only now, as I reflect, that I realize this may have been the moment that inspired me toward a life of loving nature.

Last month, we went to the New England Aquarium in Boston, and a sea turtle swam right up to me and seemed to say hi. It was magnificent!

Ron said, “I asked it to do that for you.” I said, “I did too.”

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