Author Archives: Rachel Bellenoit

Nature and wildlife photographer, self-taught naturalist and birder. “A morning glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.” - Walt Whitman

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I dreamed of turtles early this morning before waking.

I was standing on a quiet lake shore. Fifteen feet in front of me was a piece of driftwood sitting in the quiet water. It was typically the kind of driftwood that turtles sun themselves on. It was about 8” high above the water in the middle and had an angled flat top. One side came out of the water long and straight to the center and the opposite side curved into the water like a slide. A young painted turtle swam up to it, climbed to the top and then belly-flopped into the water. It repeated this several times. There was someone on the shoreline with me but I couldn’t see who it was. But we did speak in harmony about the nature moment we were witnessing. The small turtle suddenly refined its diving method. Instead of propelling itself off the top of the driftwood, it decided to use the curve of the wood as a slide and instead of belly flopping into the water it quietly slid into the water. It repeated this seemingly preferred method of water play several times. Suddenly, I could see the shell of an adult turtle under the clear water heading towards the driftwood. Its shell rose above the water line. It met the younger turtle and they swam away towards deeper water.

In Indian mythology the turtle is the creature in which souls inhabit on their way to nirvana, and since usually wiser souls make it to nirvana, that may be the way in which turtles became synonymous with the intellect.

This shot was taken at Ashley Reservoir, Holyoke, Massachusetts, where several hundred painted turtles reside. Some may be carrying souls to nirvana.

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