The Tortoise Forest

My sister likes to work on her garden, she has a turtle pond and also five tortoises. She stocked the pond with fish, some koi, goldfish, and also guppies from Mosquito Abatement. The biggest turtle in the pond likes to sun himself on a rock. I call it Turtle Island, after the Turtle Island String Quartet. But one morning my sister Nancy, a Real Estate Broker and proprietor of Harper Realty of Bakersfield, California, saw that the big turtle was pushing the little turtles off Turtle Island. She wanted to put a second rock in the pond in case the little turtles wanted to sun themselves, too. This was achieved, and I named this rock Shark Fin Rock. Does it look like a Shark Fin? Well, I suppose it could be construed that way — but that’s not the reason for the name. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh…. It’s a secret. Is it because her son is named Griffin, and his nickname is Finn? No, that’s not it either, my Huckleberry friend. But good guess. And bonus points if you got the Huckleberry reference. There’s two parts to that one: One is a book, and the other is a song that was written for a film. Some people might get that, but no one in a million years will guess the significance of Shark Fin Rock.

Though the rocks in the pond have their own names the place as a whole is named The Tortoise Forest. It is a good place for naps, provided they aren’t taken too early in the day, because there is insufficient shade. I took a real great one there the other afternoon, but wondered if I had slept at all? Nancy confirmed that I had been snoring, so that answers that question. There is a really comfortable camping chair that might be lacking in the cup holder department, but has a foot rest. That not only gets your feet elevated, which is so relaxing, it also protects you from the tortoises. Whenever they hear people in their domain, The Tortoise Forest, they make their way towards them, since they more often than not, are fed flowers or grape leaves. Apparently this is a very delectable delicacy for tortoises. Anyway, they will collide with your feet, and the prospect of them nibbling on your toes can be most disturbing.

I really support my sister’s quest to establish her sanctuary in The Tortoise Forest. It is a wonderful place to meditate, make plans, drink tea, and most important, take naps. Serenity. Bliss. Of course, she sometimes gets a little over anxious about her garden, and loses sight of the main objective: Naps. In other words, she spends too much time working on the garden instead of just enjoying it. Or lets other aspects of her life get neglected. But all in all, I wholeheartedly support her. You should see it in the magic hour, when the tortoises roam, and the humming birds have plenty to hum about, and the doves coo, and the red dragonfly makes its presence known. Bliss. Serenity. Joy.

I need to plant a garden of my own, but in a way, I am building a library as my own personal Sacred Space. I have named my library New Alexandria, after the library in Egypt. The Royal Library of Alexandria, or Ancient Library of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt, was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. It was dedicated to the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts. The library is famous for having been burned down, resulting in the loss of many scrolls and books; its destruction has become a symbol for the loss of cultural knowledge. I see the danger of the current loss of cultural knowledge being more likely to be caused by the diminishing readership of books and the increasingly short attention span of the populace, but don’t get me started on that rant.

Final note to end on: after a most refreshing nap in The Tortoise Forest I was showing my sister, Nancy Harper, my latest acquisition for the Library of New Alexandria: The Annotated Alice.

Really struck by this picture, of Alice, The Mock Turtle, and the Gryphon, and this quote:

“When we were little,” the Mock Turtle went on at last, more calmly, though still sobbing a little now and then, “we went to school in the sea. The master was an old Turtle—we used to call him Tortoise—”

“Why did you call him Tortoise, if he wasn’t one?” Alice asked.

“We called him Tortoise, because he taught us,” said the Mock Turtle angrily; “really you are very dull!”


We had our own tortoises, gryphon, and real — NOT Mock — turtles, here in The Tortoise Forest, and Nancy Harper was our Alice. It was a splendiferous bit of serendipity and synchronicity, if you ask me.

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