Wednesday, July 6, 2011

We Can Fly With a Little Help From Our Friends

Thought for the day:  Man must  not allow the clock and the calendar to blind him to the fact that each moment of his life is a miracle and a mystery.   H.G. Welles

All's relatives at family reunions.
No, I'm not gonna go all Einstein-y on you, but the old dude was right. Time and speed are relative. Children have little grasp of time, and scant concern about it beyond the eon separating one Christmas from the next, or the interminable amount of time it takes to drive to Aunt Sally's or to the vacation spot at the beach. On the other hand, as we get older, our days no longer seem to contain the full allotment of twenty-four hours, and the days, weeks, months, and years pass so quickly, there doesn't even seem to be much point in bothering to take our Christmas decorations down anymore. Like the joke says, life is like a roll of toilet paper: the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.

Speed's the same way. To a child pedaling his toy car down the driveway as fast as he can, he's flying like the wind. But if you put that same pedal car on the autobahn? Different story. And compared to a snail, a turtle moves pretty darned fast. But compared to a 747? Road kill.

Or at least,  it could be.

If  you've ever been disheartened by news stories about modern progress pushing yet another animal out of its natural habitat and to the brink of extinction, here's a story of a different breed. On June 29, a piece of the modern world hit the pause button. Or you could say ...  it slowed to a crawl.

You've heard of the annual running of the bulls? Well, every year diamondback terrapins leave the salt marshes of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts to take part in a slow motion stampede of their own. In this annual running of the turtles, these critters are lumbering to their nesting grounds, and every year, a herd of 'em crawls across a runway at New York's JFK Airport while making their laborious trek to the Jamaica Bay Refuge Center to lay their eggs. This year's journey intersected with JFK's Runway 4 on June 29, when an estimated 150 turtles shut down the runway and delayed flights for approximately an hour. As one unnamed Jet Blue pilot allegedly said, "Running over turtles is not healthy for them, nor is it good for the tires." Right. I can't see as how being run over by a 747 would be particularly healthy for any of God's creatures. Life transforming, perhaps, but definitely not healthy.

As soon as the first turtles were spotted on the tarmac, airport staff did what they do every year. They rushed out to help. Some terrapins were hand-carried across the runway to safety, while others were scooped up and given a lift to their nesting grounds in the bed of a pick-up truck.

It just goes to show you. Even if we cover it up with concrete, steel, and asphalt, nature is still all around us. And it was here first. It's good to know the folks at JFK Airport understand that.

Another thing this turtle tale reminds us. We might feel like the lone turtle on a scary runway at times, but we aren't alone. No matter what our destination, there are others willing to help us in our journey. In the amateur radio community, the more experienced hams who provide guidance and assistance to other hams are called Elmers. In schools and workplaces, we have tutors and mentors. Same for most hobbies, and same for writing. Especially in the blogosphere. Not only is there a host of aspiring writers blogging about their travails and triumphs, but there are also agents, editors, publishers, and already-published authors offering a treasure trove of tips, advise, and support, and bless their hearts, they're willing to throw us in the back of the truck and help us across that scary tarmac. In a matter of speaking.

Two authors will be killing me   dissecting my writing  throwing me in the back of their truck this coming Friday. The lovely Dianne Salerni and the lovely Marcy Hatch will be critiquing the first page of my novel Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade on their blogs. Go on over and check it out. If I survive the surgery, you might even consider submitting a page of your own work. While you're checking out their blogs, you lovely people can even pick up a scalpel cut my baby to shreds   offer your valuable opinions, as well. (And remember, y'all. I did call you lovely. So be kind.)

Know what? I may still be a turtle, but with the support of so many wonderful friends, I feel like


Super thanks to the fine folks at for so graciously granting me permission to use that cool picture of the flying turtle.

We can all be super turtles. With a little help from our friends. Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. Glad you "came out of your shell" to share that with us. The turtles on the tarmac bring it home to us that we really need to think twice before we build. We could be on someones highway to love.

  2. Hi, Delores. Love that groaner about coming out of my shell. Clever lady! Holy moley, you run THREE blogs! When do you ever have time to do anything else? I bow to the master. (pssst ... that's you!) I barely have time to write this comment before I have to run. No blog-hopping for now. Hope to catch up later.

  3. Absolutely love your title! You had me before I even read a page. I am sure that what will follow will be as humorous, sweet, interesting and well-written as what I have been reading in your blogs these past few months.

    Turtles can live long lives (if they get off the tarmacs), and time is on your side.

    Fly High!

  4. Love the bit about Einstein and time! (I'm thinking you probably *would* like my WIP, VOLTAGE.)

    And don't worry! There will be no shredding, ripping, or dissecting on Friday. Just my "first impressions" and some helpful (hopefully) suggestions. Glad to carry you over the tarmac in my humble little truck, if I can! :D

    And love the quote from the Jet Blue pilot!

  5. It's nice to know all New Yorkers arent' jerks. Thanks for the story.

  6. Good luck on the page critiques. I will be watching. Can't wait to read your work too; )

  7. This is a great piece! And you are very brave for putting your work out there to be critiqued! I'm sure you'll get all positive reviews.

  8. Hi, Starting Over. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. And you're right; turtles can live a long long time if they stay away from those 747s. Our daughter had an African spurred tortoise, and those big boogers can live well over a hundred years. When it got to the point where its habitat was taking up more room in her apartment than she was, she had to find it a new home.

    Hi, Dianne. Oh, I'm sure I'd love "Voltage". You won me over as soon as you mentioned the spark gap generator. (My nerd antenna perked right up!) And I'm not really worried about your critique on Friday. The others you've done have all been helpful, so I'm actually looking forward to your input. Thanks for the opportunity.

    Hi, Anne. Glad you liked the story. Not sure if the people working at the airport are native New Yorkers or not, but let's just say they are. (They could use the positive PR.)

    Hi, Danielle. Thanks.

    Hi, Kara. Glad you liked the post. Dunno if I'm brave or not, but thanks for the optimism.

    Y'all take care.

  9. You are a much speedier turtle than I am! Great story and I am very excited about your new book! I love the title! I'm sure the critique will be very positive, and I look forward to reading it! I also have to catch up on your other stories. We've been having computer trouble so I've been in and out. Julie

  10. Thanks for the heartwarming turtle tales - very uplifting (but not for the jets, obviously!) I heard once that the reason time seems to go quicker when you're older is to do with percentages of time on the planet; so to a child, one year may be, say, one fifth of their lifetime, which seems a huge amount, whereas, to me, say, a year is ... er, a fiftieth of my life, so it whizzes by. It's a theory, and may explain why I've been known to get up on a Monday and go to bed on a Friday and not be at all sure that there were any days in between. (Used to happen when I was younger too, but that was almost certainly the drink)
    Hugely looking forward to the critique of your page - already love the title of the novel :-)
    Take care and all best

  11. Super turtle rocks my world [great pic!]. I had to smile over how funny the pilots and the air traffic controllers were discussing the turtles - they did it inadvertently but the did care enough to get them cleared.

  12. Hi, Julie. Sorry about the computer problems, but glad they're behind you now. Nah, I'm one turtle who'll never win the race. Too busy enjoying the scenery. Glad you like the book title, and hope you like the first page, as well.

    Hi, Karla. It makes sense that the perception of time passage would be affected by the percentage of one's lifespan it represents. (Ditto the correlation between alcohol intake and a sense of lost time!)

    Hi, Skippy. Isn't that picture ... super? Yeah, I imagine the exchange between the pilots and air traffic controllers the very first time the turtles showed up on the runway must have been hilarious. ("Please say again. You see WHAT on the runway ...???")

  13. It's great that you're getting feedback on your work. Keep flying high! :D

  14. Loved this post. I put it on my blog. Hope everyone reads. Not just writers. This is about all of us trying to find our places in this crazy world.
    Thanks much Susan for writing this. It touched my heart and I will check out your "first page."

  15. Hi, Barb. Thank you. That's very sweet of you to say. (You touched MY heart!)