Sea Turtle Rescues and Spring Break Road Trips

sea turtleA record 242 sea turtles were rescued from the icy waters around Cape Cod this winter and most have now been released into the warmer ocean waters around Florida.

Sea turtles are susceptible to hypothermia and can strand on Cape Cod beaches during the fall and winter. Volunteers from the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay walk the beaches, find the cold-stunned turtles, and transport them to the New England Aquarium Animal Care Center near Boston. In an average year, about 70 juvenile, Kemp’s ridley, loggerhead and green sea turtles are taken in, according to the New England Aquarium website. This past season’s total of 242 was the largest yet recorded.

Aquarium facilities all along the Northeast coast made room for the sea turtles. Then this spring, once the turtles were warmed and revitalized, the road trips to Florida began. Volunteers picked the sea turtles up and drove them to the Florida beaches.

I wonder what the sea turtles were thinking during those road trips. After suffering through the Cape Cod winter season, I’m sure they must have been looking forward to swimming in warmer ocean waters and soaking up the sun.

Click here for sea turtle Spring Break photos showing one of the releases in Florida.

Sea turtles are one of the Earth’s most ancient animals. The seven species that can be found today have been around for about 110 million years, since the time of the dinosaurs. By comparison, modern humans have only been around for a fraction of that time – about 200 thousand years.

Unlike other turtles, sea turtles can’t retract their legs and head into their shells.

Sea turtles play a part in my novel, Ocean Echoes, which will hopefully be published someday (I know, I keep saying that).

How Does Where You Live Affect Your Writing?

Chatham, Cape Cod

Our surroundings are constantly affecting us. But how much does where we live affect our writing?

Southern writers like Robert Penn Warren are known for a certain cadence, a more languid or lingering tone. His writing feels like sitting out on a front porch on a humid night with cicadas buzzing in the background. Irish writers also bring a sing-song lyrical feeling into their writing.

A certain tone is hard to pinpoint and I don’t know if my writing has anything like that because of where I live. It’s probably more because of what I read and the rhythms found there. But Cape Cod definitely contributes to the overall feeling of my writing, either through descriptions or something more mysterious.

Descriptions of the ocean and sky are always sneaking into my stories. The changing seasons find their way in because I can’t help but be affected by them. If I lived in the tropics, I’d probably keep looking for new ways to describe the heat.

Hancock tower, BostonI used to live in a Boston apartment. Boston is full of edges and angles, like this photo. I loved the energy of the city and being able to walk everywhere, but my writing ended up sounding depressing because I’d describe things I happened to encounter like gum splattered all over a sidewalk or the smell of an alley. I remember trying to describe that particular subway smell: a strange mixture of sweat, popcorn, greased metal, and feet. I could never really fully describe it. Maybe the fact that it can’t be described makes it sound even scarier.

Of course, the fun of writing is in using our imaginations. But our imaginations build off of our surroundings. While living in Boston, I’d be more likely to describe the way the light hit a certain building to make it glow or the sound of different accents and languages mingled together on the city streets. Now that I think about it, I miss Boston. Even that strange subway smell.

Boston street

How does where you live affect your writing? Have you ever tried to describe an indescribable smell?

History as Inspiration

History is more easily overlooked than crazy dogs or nature, but stories from long ago can also be a source of inspiration. It’s the everyday history that inspires and it’s all around us. Whether you’re writing historical fiction or an adventure novel, it’s always fun to sprinkle bits of the past through the pages.

Martha's Vineyard houses

GosnoldSometimes finding these stories is as easy as walking up to a plaque or statue, even if it might make you look like a tourist. I found this plaque practically covered in vines. It mentions Bartholomew Gosnold, who led the first recorded European expedition to Cape Cod before the Pilgrims. It brings to mind what this area would have looked like at that time, what life would have been like, the challenges people faced.

Gosnold's landing area today

historic Cape Cod houseWidow’s walks or cupolas make me think of the days when women waited for years for a ship to appear on the horizon. Although we romanticize that kind of thing today, would it be all that romantic if you were really living it? Somehow, I don’t think so.

windmillShipbuilders, farmers, and fishermen once worked this land. Some may have spent their lives building ships bound for the Orient, hearing only tales and legends from the adventurers who came back.

stone building for whalingStone walls always make me think of borders that are now long gone and the people who placed each heavy stone, building and shaping their land and future.

Just imagine: ice was once cut and harvested from local ponds for refrigeration. Windmills were needed to grind grain into flour. A stone building that’s now a research center was used as a holding area for whales that were caught and hauled in from the ocean. And we think we work hard these days.

I like to imagine these people who came before us. Their stories are everywhere.

stone wall

Have you found inspiration in local or everyday history? Do you think history has a place in all kinds of fiction or just historical fiction?

Ireland’s Ancient Castles and Spirits

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Ireland is a dream, a glowing green celebration, a place of shifting light where shadows of knights can be seen roaming through the fog.

The Guinness is foamy and dark and suspiciously looks like the River Liffey. Poems float through the air and music is everywhere.

castleMist hovers through the countryside, contributing to the dream. When the mist clears, ancient castles appear. Some castles have been restored, but I love the ones that haven’t been touched. Doors and walls may be missing or crumbling. Birds fly through open windows and nest in the corners. It’s easier to imagine the past in a place like this, a place that has surrendered itself to time.

castleFrom the ancient castles, the countryside still looks as it did when kings and queens ruled the lands. Green fields stretch toward the darker trees of a forest’s edge. The rumble of galloping horses can be felt. Fog and magic swirl through the air, bringing shadows of the past back home. They stoop over a stone fireplace, tending a fire so that a whiff of wood smoke is inhaled hundreds of years later. They harvest the fields that have grown into a tangle. Their laughter still sings through cracks in castle walls.

Ireland green fields

Ireland countryside

Ireland

Ireland castle

Ireland castle

On St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll be dreaming of Ireland.

How will you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year?

What Do Bozo the Clown, the Ocean, and My Crazy Dog Have in Common?

Strangely enough, Bozo the Clown, the ocean, and my crazy dog all influenced me while writing a short story called “Wandering Universes.” I’m excited to announce that the story was recently published in Halfway Down the Stairs.

For any writers out there, this is a great publication to submit to. Each issue has a theme like “we all fall down,” “time” or “persuasion” and it’s fun coming up with a story or poem to fit each theme. This issue’s theme was “chaos,” which went along well with my crazy dog.

Bozo can also be pretty chaotic. I know this because I once appeared on the show and had to run around and catch as many balloons as possible. When the neighborhood kids saw me on television, they brought presents to the house and asked for my autograph. It was my one brush with fame. A lot of people think clowns are creepy these days, but the thought of Bozo still makes me smile.

The ocean, whether chaotic or calm, is always influencing me. In this short story, a couple continually walks a certain coastline, possibly too often, but doing so lets their minds wander. Until chaos arrives, that is.

In case you’d like to read it, here’s a link to my short story Wandering Universes.

Ocean Influences

It’s impossible not to be affected by the ocean while living on Cape Cod. Even if I don’t see it every day, I breathe it. The sound of distant fog horns brings the ocean closer to home. The air, after being touched by waves, sounds like waves as the wind roars through the trees. There are many gray, fog-filled days, but then these make us feel closer to the ocean. They smell of seaweed and adventure.

Adventurous people live here. People like whalers and sea captains once used the ocean to roam the planet. To them, the sight or smell of the ocean must have brought up an urge to be off again in wooden ships that would be tossed around like driftwood.

My novel, In the Echo of the Ocean, wouldn’t have been written if I lived in any other place. Even though the story is more about people than the ocean, I hope the sound of the waves and adventure can still be heard through the pages.

To me, the ocean will always bring up memories of salt-encrusted skin, playing in the waves with my brother, and searching for hermit crabs at low tide. I will always cherish it for those memories, for its beauty, and for the stories it tells.

The ocean means different things to different people. What does the ocean mean to you?

Related:
Oceana – Protecting the World’s Oceans

Inspiration from a crazy dog

This is a crazy dog. She loves to roll in mud puddles. The stinkier, the better. Here we humans are, looking for happiness everywhere, and little do we know that extreme joy can be found in mud puddles. She shows me these things.

Every weekend, we go for a romp in the woods. For years it’s been the same woods, the same paths, but she doesn’t care. She knows there will always be something new to sniff. She gets so excited to be there, every time, that she ends up soaring through the air. At first I wondered how the same path could be so exciting. But then it’s always different. Sometimes the path is a jungle rain forest. At other times, it’s a frozen river crackling under our feet and paws. And as if that’s not enough for complete and total happiness, there are always mud puddles.