Turtle Huggers

under the dock

A snapping turtle at Higgins Lake

My aunt gave me VOYAGE OF THE TURTLE, by Carl Safina. One of the blurbs said: “Carl Safina is a rare breed of writer who doesn’t just do research to get the story, but enters the story and lives it [awesome so far!]… The result is a fascinating narrative that will appeal to a reading public beyond mere turtle huggers.”

mere turtle huggers

Why not just say the book will appeal to a wide audience; to readers unfamiliar with turtles?


I am a turtle and lizard and snake and tree and people hugger. Why do we shove animals and nature aside? “People first,” we say.

The clock is ticking on wildlife and biodiversity. I wonder how we will continue the everlasting fight for human rights, justice, peace, and ending world hunger on a planet that’s devoid of wildlife.

What about the Rights of Nature?

Here’s Birdfoot’s Grandpa by Joseph Bruchac:

The old man

must have stopped our car

two dozen times to climb out

and gather into his hands

the small toads blinded

by our lights and leaping

like live drops of rain.

The rain was falling,

a mist around his white hair,

and I kept saying,

“You can’t save them all,

accept it, get in,

we’ve got places to go.”

But, leathery hands full

of wet brown life,

knee deep in the summer roadside grass,

he just smiled and said,

“They have places to go too.”

A Mess

Mao & Me 1993

Sebastian’s grandfather Mao and Me at Finca Cyclura, 1993

This is how it’s been lately.

I picked up cellulitis in my left foot. Don’t wear sandals to the airport. Mom urges me to the ER, for which I’m grateful. All those antibiotics and shots in the butt. Years of restoring gut flora with probiotics and fermented foods gone.

A forced time-out.

One good thing, I got my memoir draft in on time for a workshop. And I’m not in the hospital, I get to keep my foot, and all five toes. My digestion is simply over, though. The “gut-brain connection.” I’m proof that gut flora imbalance causes terrible mood swings.

I’m doing Dr. Schechter’s books, THINK AWAY YOUR PAIN and THE MINDBODY WORKBOOK. It started with Dr. John Sarno. I recommend it!

This work has helped me more than any special diet or exercise! More than herbs, acupuncture, a vegan diet, a raw foods diet, juice fasting, yoga, Pilates, biking, weight training, homeopathy, deep breathing. Writing down responses to questions about emotions and physical symptoms. Connecting to the subconscious mind which regulates autonomic responses. Seeing how subconscious rage and anxiety shut off blood flow in my gut.

My own most valuable therapy is Lizard time, when I let myself have it. My lizards keep telling me to slow down. “Be with us,” they say.

My writing trudges, isn’t snappy. I blame the antibiotics today. I am struggling to let go, struggling to not struggle. Struggling for self-acceptance. I remember when Norma sent me this poem:

God Says Yes To Me

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic

and she said yes

I asked her if it was okay to be short

and she said it sure is

I asked her if I could wear nail polish

or not wear nail polish

and she said honey

she calls me that sometimes

she said you can do just exactly

what you want to

Thanks God I said

And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph

my letters

Sweetcakes God said

who knows where she picked that up

what I’m telling you is Yes Yes Yes

—Kaylin Haught