Earth Science

No Wonder This Place is Called Turtle Island

Turtles like water, and they like the land, too. They’re at home in both. That’s a mighty power. They helped created the world from a ball of muddy muck as well. Well done!

Western Painted Turtle …

…looking for a place to lay her eggs in the old sweet bunchgrass lands of the Sinlahekin Valley, flooded for a century now to bring you red delicious apples, 12 months of the year. Thank Roosevelt, if you get a chance. This is Grand Coulee Dam, version 1.0. That’s a deer hoof print in front of her, by the way, not her attempt to dig her way down into her shyness.

The world is what you sculpt it into. Here’s a clutch of turtle eggs on the shore of the Conconully Reservoir …

Turtle Interrupted

No, not by me. By the local eagle, maybe. Or the local rogue deer. Or the messy, messy Canada geese. Honk.

That’s how this trickster does it. She shapes and shapes and digs and digs and pats and pats and turns herself around in a circle and, presto, whole worlds are there, perfectly formed where there was just muck before …

Turtle Eggs


So, why is this place called turtle island? Well, because of this, maybe…

Turtle Eggs of Wind-Eroded Stone

Peshastin Pinnacles

Or maybe because the turtles are everywhere, going into the earth in the winter, coming out of it again in the spring, going into the lakes in the daytime, sunning on logs in the morning, and when you come close, plop, it’s gone. Here’s one sticking its head out of the water in Conconully …

Turtle Rising from the Water

And here’s one high up on the Peshastin Pinnacles …

Turtle Rising from the Rock

And here’s one below Umatillo Rock, at Dry Falls …

Turtle in the Desert

Like I said, they’re everywhere.

Turtle Carrying its World

Any spirit so capable of being its world is, obviously the world.

One could explore the ramifications of this correspondence for a lifetime, and never get to the end of it. Good.

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