|© Joy Krauthammer|
Moe was redeemed today. I named Moe when I rescued him at Lake Balboa. I didn’t really name him; The Compassionate One, G*d, named him, and I moved quietly out of the way to receive his name on my lips and present it to Moe as I looked at his eyes. (Not really into them, because they didn't look back at me.) Moe needed a healing name.
I’ll tell you how I got to meet and rescue Moe, a turtle, but first an introduction to a blessed day.
Yesterday, on her first yahrtzeit / death anniversary, I walked around Lake Balboa in memory of a dear friend, Lisa, z’l, and recalled our shared sweet walks together at the lake. (Lisa loved turtles and collected them until her 90th birthday, when she died. "Turtlina" was introduced to all Lisa's visitors.) This story, RESCUING MOE, is in memory of Lisa, my friend. May her memory be for a blesSing.
You can read my earlier photo story on the blossoming Cherry trees in www.sephirathaomer.blogspot.com.
|Japanese Cherry (Sakura) Trees © Joy Krauthammer|
Walking past the life guard station, I stopped and asked a big favor of the life guards, and they agreed to assist me on my return visit.
After six years of NOT kayaking (one of my very favorite water sports in the universe) – due to ‘bum’ knees, leaving me disabled for all this time in varying degrees of agony-- TODAY I went kayaking at Lake Balboa. Yes! I made it to the edge of the water, crossed the threshold of fear of pain, believing I could not carry a kayak, nor sit properly, and with emuna / faith, and receiving chesed / kindness from 'life-guards', I stepped in. I felt the joy of the lake.
The Lubavitch Rebbe, zt'l, whom I met four decades ago, said, "Joy breaks through all barriers."
Thich Nhat Hanh (whom I have studied with) would have loved my joyous smile for the three plus hours I was in joyous kayak mode. The Buddhist monk says we must exercise our "smile muscles" and believe me, today my inner smile was plastered on my face. I was in heaven.
I earned and have a "qualified park patron" license to kayak in the Los Angeles parks' system. The few hours of deep smile include: Looking for and finding all my personal kayak gear (purple fanny pack, fingerless gloves, water hat, water shorts, water shoes, sun glasses, UV sun-shirt, sun lotion, water bottle on a strap, lipstick on a cord, water proof license case, and snack), half an hour to drive to the San Fernando Valley’s Lake Balboa (no passport needed to heaven), time to get from the life guards-- my kayak and comfortable gear (seat, back rest, hole plugs, the best oar, and life vest) with two hours boating on the lake, and then surrendering the gear, and driving home.
This day was amazing: March 17th, 2010 and 85 degrees with intense blue calm skies. The park’s renowned Japanese Cherry trees totally surrounding the lake were blossoming pink like crazy in the new heat, following lots of needed rain. The mountains were clear.
Today, the two on-duty life guards, Eduardo and Andy, heard my leniency plea – for them, not me, to shlep the desired kayak down to the water from the boat house. I was so grateful for their mercy, knowing the excruciating leg pain I would suffer (having little knee meniscus remaining) if I even tried to carry one end of the boat. The two men liberated me so that I could have the freedom to enter the water and kayak to my heart’s content. I have been slave to my disability. Could they ever know the depth of this importance for me, that I could finally ask for the favor, for assistance?
Getting into the long, slim yellow kayak, my chariot, I had to remember which part of my body hits the boat first, without tipping it over into the water. Made it! (My dry clothes were waiting in the car.) I paddled out alone into the middle of the serene beautiful lake filled with water fowl and large fish, and I chanted out loud, the prayers, "Modah Ani" and "Shehecheyanu". * I praised The Source of All BlesSings for the beauty.
When I sighted and picked up the first piece of floating trash in the water, in my gratitude I decided that I would clean all the debris from the lake. (I really don’t know how to relax.) Not so much trash, I wrongly thought. Along the edges of this man-made 27 acre lake there were floating styro foam cups and food containers, plastics bags colored both white and black with potentially dangerous handles, baggies, soda cans, countless junk food snack bags of every size for potato chips, crackers, ice-cream cups, candy wrappers, an orange, etc. (I reported other sightings to the lake staff.) There was so much, as I skillfully maneuvered my boat forwards, backwards, and in circles to catch garbage, that I stopped examining to see what I had caught. I'd like to think most had probably blown in and was not consciously, nor carelessly dropped. (There are lots of large trash bins and lots of park visitors.) The most dangerous item to our lake environment's creatures was the long thin fishing line I brought up along with a glass bottle.
In two hours of kayaking and strategically balancing myself, I reached out my arms and oar as one (kind of like a bow and arrow), and as far as I could stretch (and not topple), juggled individual water soaked trash items balancing them to stay on the end of my oar to get them into my boat (adding water to the inside of the boat.). With my two paddling trips to the life guard station, I delivered a lot of garbage. I knew I was doing a good clean up mitzvah / good deed. The lake is large with coves, and ecological reclamation streams. Not all the lake is visible at the same time as you walk it or boat it, so when I thought I’d finished, I found more junk. One mitzvah begets another.
As I kayaked along the perimeter of the lake, I would fish for the trash. That was fun because I would wave to the small toddlers on the winding walk-way, and talk to the adults walking their dogs or photographing. They must love seeing a bright kayak rhythmically gliding past. One elderly lady walking with a cane in one hand, and a younger woman supporting her other arm, with a great sense of humor, closed and turned her hand, and in my direction, stuck out her thumb, to ‘hitch’ a boat ride. We three laughed.
|© Joy Krauthammer|
|© Joy Krauthammer|
I paddled past a protected wire fenced area for duck breeding, an ecological sanctuary for babies, where there were three turtles sunning themselves.
|© Joy Krauthammer|
Along Lake Balboa’s perimeter, I kayaked past a rectangular metal grill, at least a yard wide and a foot in height, reaching from the green grassy meadow’s curb down into the water. Much debris and many fallen leaves were caught, stuck in the lower end of the grate as the recycled/reclaimed water flowed into and past it all and down a drain. I stopped and stared. I wondered what I saw and thought as I got closer, I recognized something; an animal, stuck. With concern I paddled closer. I didn’t want to believe it was dead. I called a man over from the grassy area. "Dead," he pronounced, bending down over the edge, looking at the turtle, its visible upper dark curved shell the size of my fully outstretched hand.
The instant I saw the non-moving turtle’s head slightly above water, its top shell, and barely visible front feet, pushed backwards, I knew I was going to save it. The thought that the turtle could be dead was more than upsetting to me, thus it would not be so. Ever so gently with an end of my long double tipped oar, I nudged at the turtle’s shell, hoping to release the whole body from the lower grill. NO movement. Nothing. Stuck. Still. Over and over and finally with the stranger helping me for that moment, we released the turtle from its bondage and I had him life-less on my oar. Hmm, in Hebrew, oar, or ohr means "light."
I looked at him, and believed that I would resuscitate this turtle. "What’s your name?", I asked out loud. "MOE", that’s his name, Moe, I heard. Why the name Moe? I thought to myself, simple short name came quickly to me for a small squat turtle, not moving, showing NO life. Immediately I placed Moe into my kayak and lifted my oar of 'light' to briskly paddle towards the life-guard station. In the distance, anxious, I could see a guard wearing the red shorts, and called out his name, waving to him to come toward me, which he did as I continued to paddle. By this time, like a cry, little Moe was regurgitating silent bubbles of water from his now slightly open mouth. I watched his black beady eyes. His head moved a little, as did his right webbed flipper, flat foot with claw toes. Was it a spontaneous movement, although not alive? Moe was alive. Did I ever doubt it? Relieved, I watched as Moe pulled in his head a teensy bit into his shell, and then stretched it a wee bit again to gurgle out more water. Poor thing had been drowning at the drain.
Oh, Moe. I realized why I had called him "Moe". G*d named my turtle Moe. Moe is for Moses, of course, the biblical baby pulled out of the Nile's bulrushes by Batyah, Pharaoh’s daughter,* with her long, miraculous "out-stretched arm." Her arm like an oar of light. Miriyahm, haNeviah, --Moses’ sister who later danced and sang praise to G*d at the Yam Suf, place of faith, had been protectively watching baby Moses until he would be rescued. It all made sense. It was G*d’s Divine Presence, The Liberator who watched over Moses and Moe. And for Moe, I know that Motek is an affectionate name for 'sweet one'. And Modah ** is for 'thanks' to G*d, the way I begin my morning prayers. Clearly, this was "Moe".
© Joy Krauthammer
I paddled out with my outstretched arm and oar of light to clean up more trash. I paddled past the lone turtle on the plank a distance away on the opposite bank of the lake. My heart felt full. (It reminded me of how I had rescued a tumbling fresh water turtle a few years ago from the salty rough Pacific Ocean waves.)
It makes sense that my time at Lake Balboa began yesterday, 1 Nissan, 5770 on Rosh Chodesh with Chodesh Tov blesSings for the new month of Nissan. This is the first of the month of redemption for the Israelites who went from Mitzrayim / slavery, narrow constricted places to their freedom, as they passed through the Yam Suf, the waters that separated them from the Egyptians, who had enslaved them. We celebrate Passover this month as if we ourselves are experiencing our own freedom and expanded consciousness, and with recognition of the Merciful Holy One.
May Moe, the rescued turtle, and we be blessed to have safe and clear journeys as we travel through our bondages to our liberations and redemption. May we be blessed to be present for others in our lives.
I called Lake Balboa’s life guard station, and life-guard Andy said he believes that little Moe is having a good time in the water and without any predators.
* "She called his name Moses, as she said, 'For I drew him from the water.'" - Exodus 2:10
** Modah Ani, a praise to G*d. "...You have returned my soul within me with compassion.
Shehecheyanu, praise to G*d for "sustaining us and bringing us to this time."
Another Turtle story by Joy Krauthammer:
|© Joy Krauthammer|
|© Joy Krauthammer|
|Self-Portrait © Joy Krauthammer|
PHOTOS by © Joy Krauthammer, joyously kayaking in Lake Balboa.
Japanese Cherry trees, ducks, geese, coots, and turtle at Lake Balboa.