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Spirit Animals

Spirit Animal I

The old saying "April showers bring May flowers" will hopefully be true. But in my backyard, the showers and spring like weather have brought out the turtles from their winter retreat. This brought a smile to my face and reminded me of a painting I did several years ago, Spirit Animal I, a turtle.

I have a connection to turtles. I didn't just randomly paint a turtle. Many years ago a friend and fellow teacher would come and visit about this time of year...late spring. She and I were talking about everything and nothing, solving all the important and unimportant problems of the world and life, as good friends do when they get together.

As we talked she brought up her "spirit animal". I had never heard of a spirit animal and asked what she meant by it. She told me all about hers and I asked how I was to know what my spirit animal would be. She explained that it was an animal that would come to me in a dream or that crossed my path often. It sounded kind of like a horoscope. I don't put too much credence in them, but they are fun to read and talk about.

Not long after her visit ended, I was walking my dog on our regular one mile route through the neighborhood. Only this particular day, I saw turtles on every street and turtles in my yard. This made me think back to our conversation, and I went home and looked up spirit animals to see if turtles could be one. Yes, there it was, the turtle spirit animal.

"The turtle totem wisdom teaches us about walking our path in peace and sticking

to it with determination and serenity. Slow moving on earth, yet incredibly fast

and agile in water. Those who have the turtle spirit may be encouraged to take

a break in their busy lives and look around or within themselves for more

grounded, long-lasting solutions. Traditionally, the turtle is symbolic of the way

of peace of mind."

I liked it! I don't know if it is me, but I am slow moving and I definitely like taking breaks. It also brought back another dog walking experience, one that I had never forgotten and thought back on many times with laughter and a joyful moment. Another turtle incident.

I was walking the dog early one July morning. I was avoiding our extreme summer heat and had started very early. I noticed it was trash day because all the trash cans were on the street curb and I was walking around them. As I passed one, I noticed an overflow of trash. Someone had put half of a watermelon shell on the roadside. It must have rained earlier that morning because the watermelon shell was full of pink water. As I drew closer, there in that shell was a turtle, just swimming around in that pink watermelon pool water. It just tickled me to laughing out loud. I thought that turtle must have thought he had been given a ticket to "turtle Disney Land". Remembering that moment brings a smile to my face even now.

Being home more since retiring from full time teaching, I have become more observant of the turtles in my yard. Living across the street from a bayou, I have quite a few. I have come to admire their personality. They are observant of their surroundings, they aren't slow, they are diligent in where they want to go. They are self sufficient and take their home and the security of their shell with them. When they feel that it is safe they move rather quickly and with purpose. I'd like to think that I can learn from them and couldn't ask for a better spirit animal.

This past summer, when one of the many storms was bearing down on us, I packed everything of personal and sentimental value into my SUV. As I was closing the back hatch, I thought to myself, I am just like that turtle. If that danger comes, I am ready to get in my car (shell) and I will get to a safe spot till I know the coast is clear.

I hope you will look at this painting now and have more of a connection to him. You might think of the slow, diligent, peace loving animal, and yes they are personality traits that I would like to think I have. But I would really like for you to think of my spirit nature to be that turtle swimming in that watermelon shell of pink water, enjoying the good life. When you think of the connection to the turtle, I hope you can hear my voice saying, "Backstroke!"

Thanks for connecting,


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