Sheltered Islander: Binge Watching the East End Way

Baby Turtle Hatchling
Binge watching on the Island, Photo: Isabelle K�hn/i23RF

Binge watching. It’s when you watch the whole season of a television show at once. Binge watching isn’t new around here. There are lots of things we binge watch.

One summer, when my son Jacob was nine and still okay with hanging out with his mother, we found a clutch of turtle eggs to watch. We both love turtles. Whenever Jake found one, he’d take my red nail polish and paint a J on its back. We were up to 11 turtles that summer and, what we assumed was the mother turtle near the nest, became number 12. There were five eggs in the nest. We brought orange yarn the next day and Jake established a five-foot perimeter around the eggs. He also posted a few signs that read “Danger, Turtle Nest.” We also brought lettuce and grapes for Mother Turtle. The grapes were a big hit (good to know if you run across any free-range turtles).

We visited daily. Jacob’s research revealed we could expect to be there for two weeks, oh, joy. Jake had fun investigating the surrounding area. He was Jake, the Snake Hunter—he read that snakes were a big threat to turtle eggs and he wasn’t having it.

I sat on a nearby tree stump. I suppose I should say how much I loved being in nature, loved quality time with my son, blah, blah, blah. The truth is, I was bored out of my mind. The woods are dirty and buggy and Mother Turtle wasn’t much company. Sometimes she wasn’t there, which upset Jake, until I explained she probably went somewhere to use the bathroom, which worked for him. But I’m telling you, if those eggs hadn’t hatched soon, I was going to hire someone to steal them.

Then, one day, it happened, the eggs had hatched. All but one survived. One tiny turtle died, still partly in his shell. Jake was very upset. Why didn’t the mother wait for us, we could have given her grapes to take with her for wherever she and the kids were going. We could have tied the bag of grapes to her foot for her.

Now, about the remaining turtle…Jake wanted to call 911 while I started CPR, because there still might be time to save him. I touched the baby turtle’s tiny flipper, and told my now-crying boy that I couldn’t feel a pulse. I was genuinely sad for my son, but the evil twin inside of me was laughing hysterically that I was checking a one-inch turtle for a pulse.

I created a bed of ferns and we put the tiny turtle on them and solemnly walked to the car. There’s a cemetery next to the school. We went there and found a headstone with the name Tuttle. Tuttle was close enough to turtle for Jacob. Behind the stone, I dug down two inches with a McDonald’s spoon and we buried the baby turtle there.

So if you’re thinking of living here, ask yourself, how slow can you go? If you can binge watch turtle eggs, and keep a straight face, you might make it.

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