Saturday, June 11, 2011
Score One for Mother Nature
I opened the gate between the barn and the pasture yesterday and noticed something big and dark out in the grass. To my joy and amazement, it was a large snapping turtle about the size of a dinner plate. You may recall that last year, we had a tragedy when our resident mother turtle, an ancient creature about two feet in diameter, was hit by the school bus on the road in front of our house. I imagine that this new younger girl is probably one of her daughters. The big mama used to travel from the pond in the woods behind our house over to our neighbor’s yard across the street, lay her eggs and trek back to the pond at exactly this time every year for as long as anyone around here could remember. So, seeing another turtle follow her path was cause for celebration. I immediately closed the pasture gate to give her safe passage and called all of my neighbors to tell them the good news.
Then, I pulled Animal Speak, by Ted Andrews, off of my bookshelf to find out what the appearance of a turtle in my life might signify. The turtle is an animal whose magic can help you unite heaven and earth within your own life. It is sometimes known as “the keeper of doors”, crossing between land and water and between earthly and spirit realms. “If a turtle shows up, you may need to ask yourself some questions. Are you not seeing what you should? Are you not hearing what you should?” A snapping turtle may indicate the ability to grab and use the mouth, i.e. your voice, in new ways. “ Turtles remind us that the way to heaven is through the earth. In Mother Earth is all that we need.”
After about a half and hour, the turtle had successfully negotiated crossing the pasture, and I opened the gate so the horses could come out. The sun was shining, the temperature was back down to normal, and there was a great sense of renewal in the air. The night before, we had another huge scary thunderstorm, with two funnel clouds sighted within a few miles on either side of where we live. Many trees were knocked down, and on the other side of town, there was still no power. So we were very lucky, and Siete trotted around like she owned the world.
Everyone is talking about how crazy the weather is this summer, and I thought about a quote that I read in the NY Times from Paul Gilding’s book, The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World: “When you are surrounded by something so big that requires you to change everything about the way you think and see the world, then denial is the natural response. But the longer we wait, the bigger the response required.”
“If you cut down more trees than you grow, you run out of trees,” writes Gilding. “If you put additional nitrogen into a water system, you change the type and quantity of life that water can support. If you thicken the Earth’s CO2 blanket, the Earth gets warmer. If you do all these and many more things at once, you change the way the whole system of planet Earth behaves, with social, economic, and life support impacts. This is not speculation; this is high school science.”
So, while Mother Nature reminds me that the cycle of life, at least as far as snapping turtles go, continues in good health, I also feel it’s time to start speaking out about how we are damaging the earth and making ourselves sick and scared when we actually have the capabilities to solve these problems that we have created. Denial is a slow seeping poison, and I try to keep it out of my life. I wish that other people would realize the damage that it can do.