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December, 1999

Valerie with her father, John, who is holding not a loggerhead, but a snapping turtle, Illinois, 1964.


Originally from Moments by Valerie, a collection of memories (1961-1983), written in 1986 and presented to Larry on their first anniversary.

While camping in southern Florida, we happened to meet some people from the Caretta Society who were out to tag nesting sea turtles. On their recommendation of the best way to see the huge loggerheads, we started walking the beach with our flashlights some time after midnight. For awhile, we saw nothing, and just walked along in the moonless black, looking at the sand. We suddenly found what we wanted: tracks resembling those of a small tank led up the beach from the water. Using red cellophane over our lights, we watched a 4-foot long turtle dig her nest, deposit a load of ping-pong ball eggs, and cover it up. It was like watching a TV documentary but also being able to smell the cool, wet ocean wind, and to feel the rough algae and barnacle covered carapaces of the turtles as they pushed back towards the sea. We saw several turtles that night and spent hours watching them dig nests and lay eggs. For the moment, there was nothing in the darkness beyond our flashlights' glow, only those captivating giant reptiles.