Recently a treasured friend from social media sent me a link to an article about a woman in Manhattan who just happens to be the enormous area's only (as in, sole, solo) turtle rehabilitator.
Now that sounds like a big job.
Not surprisingly, at 72, Lori Cramer says she has saved hundreds upon hundreds of turtles and tortoises over her many decades to date as Manhattan's official "turtle triage specialist" and now as the director of the New York Turtle and Tortoise Society.
She does her work out of a tiny apartment she shares with her husband, with the agreement that the bathroom and (ideally) their bedroom will stay turtle-free at all times.
After following a link or two in that first article, I found myself reading about Brooklyn's "turtle lady," an amazing woman named Sara Ramos who is to Williamsburg what Lori Cramer is to Manhattan. Like Cramer, Ramos blows me away. She shares her tiny Brooklyn pad with 60 tortoises and several other interspecies flock mates. To hear her tell it, 100 percent of the turtles are potty-trained.
For the record, that is 100 percent more than the number of turtles that are potty trained in our little flock.
I am so moved by these women's stories I can hardly find the words. Truly. I cannot think of a better use of a life. Period.
Reason being, when you help a turtle (or any wild creature), it is nearly impossible to do so with strings attached. It is a gift of pure compassion, pure love, pure kindness. It is spending time with the best part of yourself - the part you will never not love, not even for a minute.
This last feels especially relevant right now, today, as our country and our planet continues to grapple with the impact of a raging pandemic coupled with raging racial tensions coupled with a raging recession and all the raging uncertainty, anxiety and fearfulness that comes along with it.
As Lori Cramer tells the New York Post, when the news of what is going on in the world feels just too horrible, she can spend time with her animals.
She calls her work rehabilitating turtles "a saving grace."