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  • Writer's pictureBethany Plonski

This One's for the Turtles

And in characteristic fashion, it's late!

World Turtle Day (May 23) has come and gone, but that doesn't mean we can't take some time to celebrate turtles anyway!

Box turtle closeup
Box turtle

I've had a lot going on during the first half of 2023, and I'm disappointed to say that blogging had to take a temporary backseat to some other priorities this spring. But I figured if I was going to be late for yet another post, at least the turtles would understand that sometimes I can't quite keep up with it all. :)

Eastern painted turtle basking on a log
Eastern painted turtle basking

I have always been a bit of a slowpoke, and that can be a challenging trait to have in our go-go-go world. I find myself wondering "Can we please SLOW DOWN?" pretty much all the time. I'm the one who asks "Wait, what?!" when everyone else has finished something before I have and I'm nowhere close to done. Or when I realize that what I thought was five minutes was actually fifteen. That's what I like to call Turtle Time!

Turtle swimming in water

Anyway, there are few things I detest more than being rushed.

That is precisely what I love about turtles: they move unapologetically at their own pace. And of course I relate to how awkward and difficult it can be for them to maneuver through certain situations.

Baby turtle trying to climb onto lily pads
Climbing...harder than it looks!

But I think my absolute favorite thing about turtles is their demeanor. Depending on the situation, it can range from stubborn to shy to occasionally snappy.

Close-up of a snapping turtle's face
Quite smiley for a snapper

I love that no matter what turtles are doing, they always seem so determined, like they've made up their mind that they are going to do the thing they are trying to do, no matter how hard or ridiculous it becomes. I find that quality brain-meltingly adorable.

Baby turtle perched on a floating car tire
It wasn't easy getting up here, so dang it, I'm staying!

Having felt a connection to turtles for a long time now, I'm always happy when I get a chance to photograph them. Last week when I was at the lake looking for birds, I noticed a quick splash out in the water as something disappeared beneath the surface. Before long I saw a tiny little triangular point sticking out of the water, and I realized I was being watched.

For the next fifteen minutes I forgot all of the stress and aggravation of daily life while I played peekaboo with this very curious turtle. It followed my every move, swimming along with me wherever I went, lifting its head out of the water just enough to keep an eye on me.

When I'm with my camera, I'm so used to being the watcher that it is almost jarring to become the watched. But not at all in a bad way. I am instantly filled with joy whenever I am reminded that sometimes other living things are looking just as curiously at me as I am at them.

I live for interactions like this. It's far too easy to get caught up in all the day-to-day stress and busyness of life and start feeling separate or even alienated from nature. But what an utter shame to miss out on that life-affirming connection.

Turtle peeking its head out of the water
What's the hurry?

As I'm wrapping up this long weekend and mentally preparing myself to get back to the grind, I take some comfort in the fact that there is indeed a place for creatures that move slowly and intentionally in nature, even if the human world may not have much patience for us slow folks.

Happy World Turtle Day!


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