From the Mystics

If you’ve ever watched a newborn baby, you’ll know how it is, celebrating every movement with awe and glee.

“Ohh, look! He just moved his finger!”

As the baby grows, these gestures evolve to smiles, laughter, sounds and eventually roll-overs, crawls and walks. As for me, I know one day Jeb will ask in his newly deepened voice, “Mom, can I borrow the car?”

But for now he’s only eight and there’s been enough time between today and his first smile that I take most of his moves for granted. I don’t marvel at his tree climbs or rock hops. Though, together, the two of us have been sitting with rapt attention as we watch the simple blink of our turtle’s eye.

I know lately I’ve been a bit turtle obsessed. I’m letting myself be preoccupied, since it’s not every day that a turtle shows up in your yard. Perhaps one day all of Zelva’s minute movements will have lost their magic. It’ll be “of course” to know that there’s a turtle in a pool by the banana patch. Though I hope I don’t get used to it.

Because that’s just it. More than thoughts on everything turtle, what I love about this slow-moving testudine (nice, huh?) is that she brings me to the present moment where I begin to appreciate every nuance.

The woo-woo lover in me, ever-seeking magic in that thread I’m following, can play with the idea that Zelva comes as a gift from the mystics. For those following the Archives, you may recall that post from a few weeks ago, on the first day the Bohemian and I landed in CA. Not long after our 6am breakfast at the Omelet Parlor and the public bathrooms at Venice Beach, we sighted dolphins at sea and a graffiti Buddha on the wall. By 10:30am we were at Lake Shrine Temple, a sanctuary dedicated by Paramahansa Yogananda and home to the Self-Realization Fellowship. We were greeted by painted turtles that swam up to us at the dock, where we stood beneath the sign that read “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Was it a harbinger of things to come? That we would fly home, 3,000 miles over the Pacific Ocean, only to have a painted turtle come climbing over rocks and lawn to sit beneath our puakinikini tree?

Paramahansa Yogananda

Her presence evokes the same stillness I found that California day at Lake Shrine. Sloooowing down. She stills me. In this place, I take less for granted. Still find the awe in the dance of life’s movements. Flesh over bone, eyes under lids, breath filling lungs and wind in the leaves.

I can dream of a day when the whole world will opt to move at turtle speed, though it’s hard to imagine how.

For now, I’ll look to my turtle guru, Zelva. Try to bring awe into the everyday paces.

Enter Zelva

making beds
of writing poetry
there only
a title
enter Zelva
with a czech
that sounds

what does it mean
when your eight year old
is struggling
in the morning
with shorts that are too big
you’re making pancakes
but thinking of that book
you want to write

if only there was time

there’s that
in the backyard
the one that just
showed up one day
making you all
and stare
every hint
of movement
each one
so very much

enter Zelva
putting us all
in some sort
of meditative
about the world
inside her shell


Turtles, Chocolate and June

I don’t know what any of it means. I simply record the details.

And yesterday held a series of unusual occurrences for the archives.

There were some interesting discoveries. I spotted a “twin” avocado growing on our backyard tree.

Jessica Dofflemyer

And the Bohemian found a turtle. From whence it came we do not know, but there she was beneath the puakinikini tree. Like first time parents, the two of us were working by headlamp in the dark, filling a kiddie pool with water and building ramps, after our online search revealed this turtle needed to be submerged in water in order to eat.

photo courtesy of The Bohemian

I also received a box of vitamins in the mail accompanied with my order of cacao powder, which had burst open in transit. The unpacking ritual left the house coated in a dusting of brown, the scent of chocolate in the air.

At sunset a friend stops by the house for a beer. The Bohemian and I are still watching the very slow movements of our newly adopted turtle. We take a break to watch the sun go down and they tell me I still have cacao powder on my forehead. By sundown, we three decide – what the heck – how about pancakes for dinner?

The first day of June 2012. Turtles, double avocados, sifting through chocolate, pancakes and beer.

Like I said, I’m just recording the details.