A creative vocabulary story by: Sarah Campbell (one of our volunteers at Turtle Fest!)
Oh! How I wished I were a villager. The villagers sowed hay, gathered apples and lured fish onto their hooks. As I grew up, I pined to live as a commoner as opposed to the wealthy, prominent life my family prized. I, trapped inside, spent hours embroidering cloth for my mother while the sun shone bright, compelling me to enjoy its warmth. One night I planned to escape the clutches of my mother and visit the beach.
After hours spent at the formal dinner table, I crept out of the window and dropped onto the soft sand below. Stifling a scream, I stood still as fear grasped me and held me in its clutches! A monstrous beast was digging a hole in the sand not three feet in front of me. As my eyes accustomed to the darkness, I realized that instead of a monster, I had encountered a Loggerhead sea turtle laying her eggs in the dunes. Delighted by my find, I watched the mother cover up her eggs in the moonlight, which glowed vividly off her wet back. The moon also reflected the saltwater that streamed down her face like tears. I believed that she was crying because she would never see her children again. Against my will, I shed a tear as the mother sea turtle shed hers. She then turned and slipped silently back into the placid ocean.
With great certainty, my mother claimed that it was imperative to learn to sew. Therefore, I spent my days as a prisoner to my needle. Every night, however, I slipped away from my mother, explored the captivating world God created and closely watched the Loggerhead nest. Seven weeks passed, and I noticed a dip in the sand above the nest, which told me the hatchling’s journey to the sea had just begun. Hoping for a miracle, I longed to be on the beach the night the hatchlings arose onto the sand.
The following night, I snuck away from my needle with anticipation and my dreams came true. The hatchlings were emerging. The soft sound of the ocean coaxed the baby turtles toward their destiny. Awestruck, I watched the turtles struggle through the sand. Their instinct pulled them up and up out of the hole that had been their home for the past seven weeks. I knew each one aspired to reach the ocean, but a perilous journey to the sea laid ahead. Cunning, hostile animals waited in the shadows with watering mouths, wanting to enjoy a delectable feast of baby turtles. Solemn seagulls circled silently above, determined to gobble a hatchling.
Nature often fought against nature, but now it also fought against man. Lights from beachfront houses were not obscured that night and the turtles turned and began following them instead of the light of the moon. Tragically, I realized that the hatchlings were headed towards the lights of our plantation. I felt ashamed. Wilting with despair, I pondered what to do about the baby sea turtles. At that moment, my mother’s head appeared from my bedroom and she glared at me. Warily, I confronted her as I compliantly climbed back through my window. She stationed me at the sink, despite our diligent servants, with the tedious task of cleaning the kitchen, talking only to the pots. The turtles remained on the beach to fend for themselves.
Fear for the turtles pushed my hands to wash faster and faster, willing them to finish the endless line of dishes. Desperately, I sunk the last plate into the murky water and swished it around. Dried grits stuck stubbornly to the cold, pewter plates. With tears in my eyes, I scratched angrily at the grits as pictures of the helpless turtles flashed through my mind. Relief washed over me as the last plate finally emerged clean. Yelling that I had finished my chore, I dashed back outside before my mother could give me another task.
Frantic, I grabbed a bucket and searched relentlessly for the babies. Once I found them by my house, I scooped up the disoriented hatchlings who had been drawn away from the sea. Fear continued to drive me as fast as my feet would carry me. At my calling, my sister abandoned her chores and ran outside to put out the lights. Her youth did not allow her to fathom the gravity of the situation.
As the moon took charge and illuminated the ocean, the little turtles heard the incessant pounding of the waves on the shore. Once I released them on the beach, their flippers propelled them through the gritty sand to the water’s edge. Without a backward glance, they dove head first into the salty ocean, their home for the years to come. I thanked God for the opportunity to help His creatures, yet I also asked Him to protect my tiny Loggerhead sea turtles on their life’s journey. My sister and I froze in the moment, arm in arm, elated that the turtles were headed home.
Sea Turtle Specialist