Something to Read in August: “The Turtle Called Genova and the Bride”, a short novel by Chiara Audenino.
Today we would like to share a story written by the friends of our Community, something truly special. It’s a true story, even though its tone is that of a wonderful ecological fairy tale: it’s about the Loggerhead Sea Turtles’ eggs which hatched last August on the beach of Capoliveri and about the bride who was celebrating her marriage on the same beach exactly on the same day. The bride is Chiara Audenino, who decided to share with us this enchanted moment since her first anniversary is approaching, together with Eighteen’s first birthday.
“My name is Genova and I am a Loggerhead Sea Turtle. For days I have been going back and forth on this beach on Isola d’Elba. I am waiting for the birth of my little turtles; it is almost time now. This year I laid my eggs on beach at Capoliveri, nobody noticed my nest. The sand on this beach is not so fine and it is full of rocks. It will not be easy for my little ones to start their life on this world, they will have to come out of their shells, find their way among heavy soil and gravel, but I did this for them! Should they manage to come out of that nest, it will mean that they are strong and capable. The likelihood that they will survive the dangers of the sea will be higher.
Lately life is not so easy for us marine animals because of the plastic we swallow, the nets we get entangled in, everything is becoming more complicated. I am now close to the shore, I would like to get closer, but I am afraid they will see me. From here I can see everything even though I am hidden. Aside from not having much respect for the sea, not all human beings are kind to us, which is why I try not to be seen. There is a festive atmosphere on the beach today. There are many people and they are all dressed in white. That’s what they are doing! They are celebrating a wedding under a gazebo decorated with white veils, flowers, ropes, twigs and other greenery. The function has just concluded and they are all proceeding towards the shore. They are placing small paper flowers containing a lit candle into the water. The bride and her groom are placing a flower on the surface of the sea.
I can recognise the woman who just got married! She always comes to swim on this beach. She swims, swims and swims until she reaches the deepest of blues, where she dives underneath the surface holding her breath until she reaches the seabed. It is as if she is captivated by the lights that penetrate the sea water. This is her ritual to re-connect with the marine environment. She loves the sea; I can feel that every time I get close to her. If she had the tail of a fish, she would be a beautiful mermaid. She does not know I am observing her through the thick Posidonia. I am sure she would be happy to see me, and I would enjoy playing in the water with her. However, I do not want to run the risk of other people seeing me, and maybe capturing me.
What is happening now? I can see the people on the beach getting excited! They’re going precisely towards the location of my nest. N0, no… my little ones are hatching, but this is not the right time! Why did you come out of your nest now, night hasn’t even fallen yet, there’s too much light and tonight the beach is full of people! My little ones will not make it, all those people will trample them! I have to do something to save them. I can see some women opening a space among the crowd to let them reach the sea, and they are trying to prevent anyone from holding them and touching them. There they are, finally in the water! I have to get closer to the shore, I have to show them the way and let them recognise me as their mother. How many of them there are! 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8...20,21...33,34...55, 56...60,61,... 66, 67!
Good, I did not think so many of you would make it through, there’s 67 of you little turtles!” Genova approached the shoreline, risking to be seen, in order to greet her offspring. “Welcome to the world and welcome to our sea, little ones! I waited so long for you all, my name is Genova and I am your mother.” “Mum, mum, how nice to see you it was so dark then when we came out the light was blinding!” “We only wanted to reach the water, but all that light was confusing us, we were not sure in which direction to go.” “You got the timing wrong; you should have waited for nightfall. Now let’s stop wasting time chatting, follow me, we need to hide among the dark Posidonia close to the shore. We will stay there a little bit until nightfall, then we will leave. You have to trust me! Did you leave any other little turtle behind, at the nest?” “Some of us did not manage to come out mum, there were many hard stones and some eggs just did not hatch at all.” “You are in the right place now. Let me just count you again to make sure you are all here: 1, 2,3,4,5,6,7,8........20,21,.....33,34.......54,55, 60,61.....66, there’s one missing! Any of you know where she went?” “Mum I saw her go towards the beach, attracted by the light coming from the lighthouse!” “There she is, swimming over there, she’s reaching the shore again!” “She’s going to the party!” “Stay here little ones, I’m going to get closer to call her back.”
Meanwhile, on the beach the bride and groom were celebrating their marriage. “What is that little creature moving under your feet?”, asked the bride to her newly-wed husband. “It’s a little turtle!”, he answered. “It’s true! They told me that while we were getting married some turtle eggs hatched, confusing the day for night. A kid had placed his towel precisely over the nest so the sunlight could not get through. This little one must be lost, we have to help her get back to sea.”, said the bride. “Come with me we have to bring her back to where she was born, so she can find her sisters and the road back home, and maybe one day she will come back to lay her own eggs.”. So, the newly-wed couple walked towards the section of beach where the turtle nest was located. “She is so beautiful! Will she remember me when she grows up?”, asked the bride. “Why do you think she would remember you?” “Turtles carry the place they were born imprinted in their minds, maybe she will have the same thing with me!”, she answered her husband. “Let’s go into the water, they all went this way. See, they have already cordoned off the tract of beach leading from the nest to the sea. Put her down here!” “Ciao little one, come back to this beach to lay your eggs when you grow up. I will be here waiting for you.”, said the bride as she carried the little turtle to the sea. However, the little one kept coming back to her hands, she did not want to leave the bride. “We need to go where the water is a little deeper, she does not want to leave me!”, she said to her husband. “Don’t stay here! Go back to your sisters and your mother!”, said the bride.
Meanwhile, in the water a Loggerhead Sea Turtle was calling her daughter. “Little one come back to me; I will lead you! I am your mum!” “Mum, I got lost! Then I felt that that woman liked me, I was not sure whether to stay with her. I was afraid I would not find my sisters anymore and I would be left behind alone!”, said the little turtle. “Say goodbye, we’re going home now. One day when you grow up you will swim in the sea with your friend and you will see her again, I promise! I know where to find her. You will not forget each other!”, Genova told her daughter. Ashore, the new couple hugged, their wedding clothes drenched by seawater, happy about this unexpected gift the sea had given them on their wedding day. “We didn’t give her a name!”, said the bride to her husband. “It doesn’t matter, we will never see her again!” “I am sure I will see her again and I will call her Eighteen…this will be her name!” She was born on the 18th of August 2018 at 18:18, just as we were getting married, and I will recognise her when I will see her in the water before the beach of Straccoligno!” In the meantime, the little turtle had followed her mum, but she turned around to say goodbye to the bride, exactly in the moment she was being named Eighteen.