Wood Turtles Hatching
The hatchling’s throat shows the slow, steady pumping of his drinking. He is oblivious to everything but water, that essential liquid mineral–the enormous being that picked him up and carried him off, the suite of instincts and senses that has been guiding his survival, directing that first monumental experience with his natal planet, his nest-to-water journey, even any concept he might have of danger. Nothing but this first full drink of water matters now. Minutes go by. His head is still immersed, his eyes closed, neck fully extended, throat rhythmically pumping. I can feel this turtle’s elemental thirst. I come to a deeper understanding of need in the natural world and wonder what limits this outwardly untroubled wanderer had been taken to.
Having decided to time this long, deep draft, I catch up on my notes while keeping an eye on him. Five minutes go by…ten…he does not open his eyes, does not come up for air. After twenty-one unchanging minutes of drinking, the hatchling lifts his head from the water and opens his eyes.