Honu in Hawaii

Among the thousand gratitudes, I am thankful for turtles, big and small. I originally planned to write this post about how grateful I am for the small and cranky turtles in our neighborhood, and how majestic I think they are – sort of like the ancient sea turtles (honu) we once saw in the ocean in Hawaii.

But before I could start writing, my daughter rolled her eyes at me. “Mom, no. Don’t even.”

Minnesota turtles look more like this:

So, yeah. It’s kind of a stretch.

I grew up in coastal cities on three continents. I grew up believing that “the beach” meant the ocean, not a lake. There are so many major airports that swoosh up a “home” feeling in me when I am on a plane that is landing there. I love the landscape of cities, and I love the landscape of ocean.

It took me a long time to come to love the Minnesota prairie, and sometimes I still feel very much like the Minnesota turtle in the photo above – a little scowly about living in a small town with no major mountains or oceans nearby. Sometimes I miss the ocean with a physical pang. I miss the variety and opportunity and energy of cities. I miss taking a train to an art museum, and I miss Thai food. For eight months of the year, I miss warmth.

That turtle looks like he just lived through a Minnesota winter, and he knows another one is coming – no matter how spring or summer it may seem at the moment. And he’s seen it all – all the paths look the same, and all the grass looks more or less the same. The only excitement is avoiding the herons who live on the ponds.

But the truth is that I have come to love the Minnesota prairie. I do feel excitement when I see the herons. And while it’s true that there’s not as much to see, and the beauty of the land is more (ok, maybe much more) understated, I have learned to look more closely.

It’s literally eye-doctor measurably true that my vision has improved since I moved to Minnesota – but it’s also true that I see differently. The Minnesota turtles may not have honu glamor, but they look pretty beautiful to me, too.

Hawaiian sea turtles are majestic, for sure. But I love the Minnesota turtles, too.