‘Little Turtle’

is now available in a limited first edition. Originally $1200 this hard cover children’s book, hand made by hobbits and using recycled materials is now marked down to $15.

It’s about the adventures of Little Turtle who wants to know how big the ocean is. Hey haven’t we all asked that question? The drawings are suitable for coloring so this would make a good gift for 3-7 year olds. Add your own underwater characters if you’re really into it. Included is an epilogue with instructions for making your own book.

The other day I was in my storage room (actually the second bedroom), looking for discardable books that I could cull out and take to half price. This room is full of shelves from floor to ceiling designed to hold my inventory and my book collection plus boxes and boxes of various assorted stuff. I noticed one box sitting on the shelf about eye level and pulled it down. Inside was the manuscript for ‘Little Turtle’. I took to my workplace and lifted the papers out of the carton, oh my god I wrote this in 1997. It was like uncovering an archaeological artifact, the pages were covered with drawings and text. Some pages had been scanned into a larger size for some reason, I don’t remember why. I remember the story. It was when I had just returned from Mexico, living on turtle beach that I wrote it. And then never did anything with it, put it in that box, closed the flaps and forgot about it. For 22 years. Until now. (I’m practicing my incomplete sentences. I’ve been told that you’re not supposed to do that so I want to see what happens.) (It’s fun.) And that’s the story of the story. I felt kinda like that guy who found ‘Gilgamesh’ in the ancient ruins of Nineveh written in cuneiform on clay tablets. ‘Ah hah, what have we here?‘ he must have thought. And then when they sat down and deciphered it, aha again, the mother of all stories – Gilgamesh! – it must have felt familiar to them. Even after 5,000 years.

I lived on Xcacel beach, a simple campground beach where lots of turtles came to nest, with my buddy, Buddy from 1992 to 1996. We had a dive shop and a jungle excursions business for the tourists who came by and wanted an adventure. We built a nursery on the beach so the turtle eggs could hatch unmolested by surf or poacher. The mother turtle would drag herself up out of the surf at night, dig a hole up above the surf line and deposit a hundred ping pong ball size eggs, carefully covering them with sand afterwards. Two months later the hatchlings would bubble up thru the sand and sprint for the sea, the only mother they would ever know. Some of the hatchlings we kept and put in grow tanks so they could get up to speed before confronting the barracudas, sharks, ospreys and pelicans of the open water. Summer was the season for the females to get impregnated and make landfall with their precious cargo and August was when they started to hatch. I remember those days, it was exciting. Patrols along the beach at night scouted for turtles coming ashore and when one was spotted, the whole team sprang into action, checking the tag and gathering the eggs.

We did a project on the captive turtle babies in the tanks as they were growing up on diced fish and turtle chow. We used a biopsy punch to encode the bottom of their shell (the plastron) with the date and location of their birth, all without harming the turtle much. Then when they were released and swam out to sea whoever caught them or saw them on the beach when they came back to lay their eggs would know how old they were and where they came from. It turns out that those turtles swam hundreds of miles out into the Caribbean Sea and then came back to the same beach where they were born 14 years later to reproduce. Xcacel had a profusion of sea turtles, for some reason, the Greens and Loggerheads loved to nest there.

But I digress. The story of ‘Little Turtle’ grew out of those experiences – thinking about turtles and working with turtles, sometimes seeing them on our dives gliding around underwater or stuck under a rock. They hold their own special powers. When you look at them, they look back at you as if from some ancient primal sea – they’ve been on the planet for a 100 million years swimming the vast oceans, migrating and navigating and finding the sea currents and the food chains. The mothers look sad and are crying (an adaptation to keep the sand out of their eyes) while they are on the beach, or it may just be such an ancient look that that’s how they look. ‘Oh humans, you newcomers, who can’t even swim in the ocean or stay underwater for more than 2 minutes without scuba gear, oh you two legged ones stranded on the beach here, I don’t know how you survive‘, they might be thinking. We survive by building hotels on turtle beaches is the truth, Ms. Turtle, and inviting tourists from countries that don’t have a Caribbean Sea and white sandy beaches with palm trees and halcyon breezes to come and spend their money here.

That was one of the amazing things about living there – we managed to save the beach from the evil developers and it remains to this day, as far as I know, free and clear of hotels or any development. The only beach from Cancun to Tulum to survive unscathed and protected specifically for the turtles.

Sometimes the good guys win. The turtles find their way home. Magic resides in the wild and natural world around us. Adventures are afoot and if you’re trying to find out how big is the ocean, it’s probably about as big as your imagination.

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