Sunday, July 12, 2009


Cave Run Lake, Kentucky

They sped past us on the lake—a handful of boats, each filled to capacity with young men, engines full throttle, voices above the roar, laughing.
And, sharply turning Red Canoe to ride their wild wake face-first, we waited and watched, buffeted by waves as they drove on into the distance, as a group.
The open water, theirs to write upon—
in sweeping curves carved across its surface.

baby Map Turtle

Once past, we softly glided along still water, tracing the shoreline for hours as it dipped and jogged into hushed coves and quiet fingers, the other boats-- all but forgotten. And we lost ourselves in the curious faces of baby turtles, a bounty of dragons and damsels riding atop the gunwales.

Before we could discern the source, loud rumblings from engines struggling against unwilling water suddenly drove several large birds from the lake to the sky, and we rounded the corner to find the boats nearby again. This time, maneuvering wildly in a small area just ahead of us, back and forth across the narrow channel, bearing down upon the one who had not flown off with the rest, to safety.
Hoping to drive over it, devour it with their engines and swallow it beneath the churning water, the pursuit of this desperate, unfortunate bird had become their afternoon sport.
And, although every part of me wished to scream out against them, “Stop it!”--
I held my hand to my mouth in silence.
And we backed Red Canoe slowly away.

I am reminded daily, of our differences—
as I walk the narrow lane past the homes of my neighbors, who, on one side of the street are dismantling their wooded lot, one tree at a time to achieve perfect green,
while on the other, they are planting a forest.
Shared place means nothing more.
We share a space, but not a purpose.

The next morning in our campsite beside the lake, we woke again to the song of the Wood Thrush, this time just inches beyond our tent wall, resounding in the dampness left from a night of rain—a private dawn concert for two.

And as he sang beside us, a chorus so loud and clear, repeating each phrase again and again until we knew the pattern perfectly, in that place between sleep and wakefulness, I found myself singing his same song.

Eastern Box Turtle,
Terrapene carolina carolina

As I walked the camp roadway toward the bathhouse later that morning, past the constant commotion of radios already tuned to the rambling pre-race commentaries, I found a box turtle crossing the blacktop pad of an empty site, his shell bright with color, eyes watchful of me and my curious approach.
Then, before another could stumble upon us and wonder what I found so beautiful in this slow-moving form—his questioning neck raised, each small step so deliberate.
I tucked him beneath the dense brush in silence.
And backed slowly away.

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Cicero Sings said...

Sometimes I could cry the see the trees come down. So many people clear cut their lots ... only to create more work for themselves. I feel the trees are our friends and we NEED them. Some say the branches could fall and hit their house, others worry of the threat of fire (which is very real in our area) BUT! Our own back yard we have left entirely in its wild state (we only have .6 of an acre) but we border on a green belt so it seems more. I'm still finding new plants out there and wild critters roam through ... even if they may be the odd bobcat!

Oh, and don't get me on about the noise that people live with.

As always, you word everything wonderfully! You've a real gift with the pen ... err ... typing fingers.

Susan Gets Native said...

Sigh. You got it right, Nina.
We share a space but not a purpose.


Michelle Johnson said...

The turtle on the branch is so sweet. I agree we share a space but not a purpose. Those people should have been turned in to the police for their actions against that defenseless bird. A shame they can't see the beauty of this world. Have a great night.

Beth said...

Beautifully poignant post, Nina. Thanks for sharing it even though it made me sad.


Deborah Godin said...

I'll never understand why so many seem to want to camp in pristine nature but take the generators, TV, radios, etc. with them...

giggles said...

The boaters would make me want to SCREAM..... I shed real tears for the nature they want to destroy for their selfish, brutal, thoughtless, expensive entertainment....

Hundewanderer said...

What a beautifully written post, with amazing photographs. Thank you for sharing your world with me.

NCmountainwoman said...

Sad but beautiful post, Nina. It is terrible that so many people share the space but not the purpose. That was our driving force for living in a gated live among others who share our love and respect for nature and all she holds dear.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Yes, this resonates sadness.
And unfortunately, despite all the beauty and wonderful times we had there, this realization--that many who now use the state parks use them for inexpensive lodging and recreation that has little room for nature appreciation was a real eye-opener.
A teary-eyed one.

Patricia said...

Great save of the turtle! They are often poached at camp grounds. People bring home their summer "souvenir" only to get tired of it and release it at some nearby park. Alas, turtles live in one small area, and when they are removed, will roam in search of their home - left not knowing where to hibernate and crossing dangerous roads.
Beautiful writing.

RuthieJ said...

Big sigh from Minnesota....we have the same kind of stupid, ignorant people at our state parks here. I'm glad there are still people like you Nina who can appreciate all the wonder of nature. Maybe someday the tide will turn, but I feel like we're running out of time and those of us who do appreciate it must take advantage to enjoy what we have while it still remains.

Julie Zickefoose said...

What precious little Map turtles. How lucky you were to see them. How lucky the boxy was to be found by you, to be respected and hidden. This post makes me remember canoeing silently amongst the wild rice in a Connecticut cove in the evening, listening to a least bittern, only to have the moment shattered time and time again by jet skiers. Or the afternoon I was appreciating my life moose in Newfoundland, only to have a bunch of city hikers holler MOOSIE MOOSIE MOOSIE and frighten him away from his feeding. These are the times it's good we don't carry guns like many of them do. Sigh.