Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Treasure Hunt, Loggerhead Turtles and Letting Go

We spent the week before school at a sleepy little beach in North Carolina with Rob's family.  I love Caswell Beach, because it feels like a throwback in time; unchanged by the waves of modern society.  We had a house full of family and six kids!  A treasure hunt sounded fun!  The map was made from an old piece of fabric, burned around the edges and mapped out once we got there.
A treasure map in an old bottle seemingly washed up on the beach!
I used an old pharmacy bottle and attached the 'map' to a string.  Attach the string to a cork by staple or tape, so that the map is easier to pull out of the bottle.  You can put real wax on top of the cork, but we used aluminum foil to cover ours.
A band of 'pirates' find the map!
Items to be collected were a bucket, an eye patch, a pink star fish, a pirate flag, a deck of cards, a loggerhead turtle puzzle, and a treasure chest.  The map had to be followed to find the items!
The youngest 'pirate' finds the starfish!

Annabelle finds the flag!
The deck of cards is found near the 'deck!'  A pink set with pirate skulls wasn't too hard to find!
The loggerhead turtle puzzle was buried near the real loggerhead turtle nest, seen just behind my son.  We were thrilled to see the nests!  Incorporating the turtles into our treasure hunt helped with learning about these special creatures.  The size of a stone when hatched, it is hard to believe these turtles grow to be about 200 pounds with some reaching 1000 pounds! 
Clutch size averages around 115 eggs with the average incubation being 55 days.  Nesting takes place nocturnally, usually at 2 to 3 year intervals.  This 3-D puzzle makes the learning fun.  (See our 'deer' 3-D puzzle in the tree house.)
When we arrived at Caswell Beach, my daughter and I started to pray that we would see the little turtles hatch!  We were very excited to be able to see the hatchlings!  We had missed the journey of the hundred or so turtles make their descent to the ocean the night before, but were able to see the last of the babies the next night, three little guys, crawl their way to the great big ocean!  I couldn't take many shots because the flash of the camera would confuse them!
The kids find the spot marked, "X" and dig up the treasure!

The chest was full of small items left over from party favors.
But, you would think real gold and treasures were in that little trunk the way they all grabbed at the goods!  My guess is real pirates ended up...
The Brunswick County Jail...
or the Old Smithville Graveyard...
Eerily beautiful!
No, our pirates ended up with some cupcakes from the local confectionery.
My baby grins with delight!
We parked behind the school and walked across the bus parking lot.  It was almost time for the bell to ring, so I told the children to run ahead.  I was, of course, carrying three large bags of wide-ruled paper, copy paper, pens, pencils, markers and crayons; enough for twenty kids, it seemed.  The humidity was low, and it was cool for this unusual August morning. August is usually the worst month of the year in South Carolina with its dreadful heat and steam coming off of the pavement as soon as the sun rises.  The early morning sun was beaming down on the bus parking lot, just barely above the school house. 
I could see my children running with their carapaced armor of backpacks trying to make their little refuge of seats before the bell rang.  And in a moment, as they ran toward the sun, they reminded me of the little loggerhead sea turtles racing toward the light of the full moon to the big, big ocean...to a place that could swallow them up in an instant.  My eyes fill and almost spill over as I think about those little turtles...my children...going off into the big world to fend for themselves.
  Then one of them stops.  I see her shoulders drop.  I can't see her head because of the bright sun.  Unable to run with all the supplies, it takes me several minutes to catch up.  She is crying.  My baby is crying.  She says, "Mama, I don't want to leave you."  I know I can't let her see the flood that is about to poor out of my head, so I try to remind her that we live right behind the school...that unlike those little turtles, she can always come home to her safe little nest.  I shift all the supplies that now feel like enough for a hundred kids, to one side and take her little hand. 
I wonder how the little logger turtles, no bigger than a pebble, make it to the water's edge and past the big waves without their Mama.  I wonder how Mama Logger lets them.  They are so little.  She is so little.  I just want to drop those bags of supplies, take her in my arms and run...run away from the huge waves that will engulf her...away from the world that wants to devour her!  I know we are probably going to be late, but I don't care.
I walk slowly and remember how just a blink ago, she and I would walk the older children to school and she would turn the corner of the building and say, "Come on, Mommy!  Let's go play tea party!"  Our most favorite thing to do. 

Today, I packed a small little tea cup in her lunch box with her juice.  It is the first day of kindergarten.  The school has asked that we not join the kids for lunch today, so that they can establish a routine. 
  I picture Mama Logger swimming just past the break of the waves looking for her babies to hatch and find their way to her...all one hundred of them.  I remember the little 'three' that we were blessed to see.  I pray they made it through the waves.  I pray my three make it through their first day of school.  I pray they learn and grow and...

come home to Mama.

Tomorrow, I will pack my little tea cup and join my baby for lunch.

I hope you are all having a better 'First Day' than I am!

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Cathy~Mille Fleur said...


At The Picket Fence said...

Ugghhh...I can barely see what I am typing with my eyes filled with tears! This was so beautiful Christie. From your amazing vacation and treasure hunt, to the story of the turtles and then to letting go of your own baby "turtles" as they venture into this next chapter of their little lives. But what a gift they have knowing that they come home every day to the best kind of nest...safe...secure...strong foundation. It sure does make leaving it a lot easier when you know what you get to come back to!
Blessings to you for sharing this my friend,

Pamela Gordon said...

What a beautiful post! I love the photos of the pirate treasure hunt and your analogy of the loggerhead turtles and your 3 children going off into the world. It seems a lifetime ago that my two started, and finished school. They are on their own and now our daughter has her own little 'turtle' learning to walk in our world at 10 months. Life continues on. Bless you today and tomorrow as you have lunch with your baby. Warm hugs, Pamela

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

Christie, you create such great memories for your children with all the adventures. How cute creating and burying the treasure chest. So much fun watching the baby sea turtles run to the ocean. We saw that many years ago on Amelia Is., Fl. So sweet that you packed a tea cup in her lunch. I am sure it will make her smile.

Carol Bennett said...

What a great post, my eyes filled with tears as memories of some 20 years ago when my "baby" went to big school!Whew, time flies, but of course, that is why HE gives them to us is to raise, care for them and send them out into the world. But.. that doesn't make it any easier. Carol

Jane@Cottage at the Crossroads said...

I'm a new reader and this post is just beautiful. I live in SC, too, and I retired from teaching two years ago. The first day of school was always my favorite day-so full of hopes and freshness. In fact, I'm missing it quite a bit this year. Your children will thrive because of the foundation you have provided. I can just hear the conversation at the lunch table about that tea cup. So precious!

gail said...

what a beautiful post. what mom can't relate to that empty feeling when our baby goes off to school. and let me tell you it won't be any easier when she goes off to college. life is so hard sometimes and I don't think there's a mother around that wouldn't want to just freeze time to when our little ones are close at hand and in the nest.
I'm crying right along with you....

Sarah said...

The joys of childhood. Christie, you are a terrific mom. What lucky children.

Marsha said...

Yesterday was our first day here in Alabama. It's still hard even though my baby is in the 11th grade.
Loved the treasure hunt and the loggerheads. What a treat to see them go down to the ocean. Sad, too. This is a big world for all our babies.

Tardevil said...

Ok, you have got to stop making me cry e.v.e.r.y time I read your blog. What a sweet post. Makes me dread what's going to happen again in my house in about 3 years. Why can't they stay little longer and the summers pass more slowly?

Tardevil said...

P.S. Enjoy your tea party!

Anonymous said...

I remember when my girls went to school and a piece of my heart went with them..I am sure your little turtles will do well and excel in all that they do..Enjoy your tea party and just breathe..Hoping you are well today..

Sheri said...

Awesome post. My oldest is leaving for college next week and it doesn't get any easier. It seems like just yesterday he was starting Kindergarten. Enjoy these days with your precious little ones.

Anonymous said...

Hi Christie,
My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
I was looking for blogs about Caswell Beach to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
Hope to hear from you soon!

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