By land or by sea, turtles are awesome. They are the quietly intrepid explorers of our world who have been around for 157 million years, give or take a few, sharing the planet with everything from dinosaurs to us. They don’t talk. They don’t tell jokes or perform tricks. They make very unaffectionate pets—and yet few people don’t stop to watch a turtle just sitting in the sun or swimming about in a tank.
Here’s a painting (sorry, it’s already sold!) by Adirondack landscape artist Sandra Hildreth, called “Big Snapper in East Pine Pond” (oil, 9×12).
“I was out in my solo canoe on East Pine Pond, in the St Regis Canoe Area, and spotted the curved shape of the shell (the carapace) from some distance, not sure of what it was. I had my camera, with a good zoom lens, and zoomed in to see it was this very large snapping turtle that actually seemed to be dozing, resting on top of some dead trees in the water. As I drifted closer I actually wondered if it suddenly dove into the water, would it create a wake and capsize my canoe! Of course not… but the shell was probably close to 24” long – hard to judge the size in the painting. It did hear me coming, lift up it’s head, then quietly slipped into the water like a submarine. So it was just a pleasant memory that I wanted to record in paint.” SANDRA HILDRETH
What are they watching? What do they think about the world? We carry images of turtles as being wise creatures, slow and patient—the ones that cross the finish line. Will they still be here after we are gone? Turtles pose questions, they don’t answer them.
Personally, I harbor the hope that if I come back after this life, it will be as a sea turtle, encircling the globe, swimming free through the worlds oceans. They seem peaceful. They live their lives and don’t bother anybody or anything, but they come in contact with every part of the planet, silent, observing all.
“Righteous the Sea Turtle” by Marianne R. Schmidt (Acrylic paint, 24 X 30 on gallery wrapped 1.5 canvas)
“I try to affect people’s emotions in a positive way when I paint. If one of my pieces can bring a smile to someone’s face and glorify God then it was worth all the hours it took me to create it. I have become rather fond of him as many folks have told me it is their favorite piece from me so far.” MARIANNE R. SCHMIDT
Learn more about sea turtles and how to preserve them from the Olive Ridley Project.
Or just enjoy reading stories about them:
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
The Lathe of Heaven Ursula LeGuin
The Phoenix and the Turtle William Shakespeare
The Slow Waltz of Turtles Katherine Pancol
The Turtles of Oman Naomi Shihab Nye
Turtle Diary Russell Hoban
Turtle Moon Alice Hoffman
Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories Dr. Seuss
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