Saturday, July 10th, 2004: The Voice of the Turtle

It was an ideal morning for shooting a movie. The air was not too hot, there was some overcast and not much wind. I showed up at the meeting place, the parking lot in Rhinebeck, the same time as Shawna, and Ted showed up three minutes later. We piled into his car and found the site fairly easily. I let him slowly absorb what he was looking at. I said it takes a long time at the site to notice all that is there. Step by step I showed him some of the new discoveries. These were the same as I’d written about for the Saturday entries with Raymundo last week, so I won’t repeat them here.

Ted was pleased. He was really excited about the Shawangunk Conglomerate. He said none of the other sites had exotics, so it was hard to say anything about them. The presence of the Conglomerate might prove once and for all that these were not farmer’s clearing piles.

The three of us worked really well together. Towards the end of the shoot, I we filmed the stone head of the turtle (which I identified as Mullenberg’s Mud Turtle, or maybe a snapper) and I told the Mud Diver story. I used the Munsee words for the four animals in the story: Wusheewayo (duck) squall anhani (bull frog) kwasheesh (muskrat) and t’kwakl (painted turtle). Several times, at the end of the shoot, I referred to the turtle as T’kwakl, Painted Turtle, and spoke that word about four times, loudly. Ted said, “What’s that word again?” TKWAKL.

I ended talking about the painted turtle. As we were preparing to leave, Shawna suddenly said, “Oh my God, look!” and I looked and said “Oh my God,” and said “Ted, you gotta see this! Get over here quick!” He had the camera running and came over and said “Oh my God!” A full sized painted turtle had walked onto the set and burrowed himself halfway into the leaves near a log, less than ten feet from the stone turtle, yet his arms and neck were fully extended, looking at us with great interest. As Ted got up pretty close, and got some headshots, we were speechless! We were trying not to giggle, it was so remarkable. I almost wanted to cry. I said it was a good omen, and told the story of the large turtle that appeared in the center of the circle the day Center for Algonquin Culture was founded.

After a long time, I said to Ted, “You know, I would really like to pick that turtle up and introduce him to the viewers, and hold him up next to the big turtle and show the similarity. He said, “I already had the same thought.” I did so, but instead of coming from behind to give a better camera angle, I kept eye contact with the turtle and approached him face to face. Even when held in the air he came back out to look at us, and we got a close up. I said, “We’re going to have to sign release papers for this guy.” It was a great moment in film. Later, Ted said, “No one’s going to believe this. They’ll think we bought him at a pet store and staged the whole thing.” I said, “If anyone thinks that, they’re pretty sick, and that’s their problem!”

The shape of his back was very much like the shape of the stone turtle. I turned him slightly and showed the camera the 13 moon platelets and the 28 day platelets on his back which I had just talked about. His shell was in perfect condition and the platelets and markings were very clear. Ted also got excellent shots of the Pipsissewa, (also called Winter Green) and not only was it in bloom, but a ray of sun hit it (on an overcast morning) as he was filming. The spirit of the land was very happy today. Shawna also found Indian Pipe. Shawna tenderly placed the turtle back in his burrow in the leaves and he stayed there the rest of our visit, seeming rather interested. Nothing in the film revealed its location. Ted wanted to do topo maps, but later on, over lunch at Schimmy’s, I explained that if we reveal the location it would be destroyed by a particular group almost immediately. A certain man I know saw his son killed on a reservation by native Americans, and he is out for revenge with every breath, sort of like a living Tom Quick.

The Rock and Roll Indian

On the way home, I stopped into the Laundromat to buy a drink from a vending machine, because it was so hot. I saw a Native American guy doing his laundry. He looked to be Lenape. I basically asked what nation of Native American he came from. He was very reluctant to talk about it, but was otherwise friendly. He was very knowledgeable about nature, prophecy, aliens, and writers like Sitchin (The Twelfth Planet) and Urantia, etc. I soon discovered he was a professional guitarist and songwriter like myself, so I got my guitar from the car and we played songs for each other and swapped stories from pop music world for about four hours. I ended up at the house where he was staying and we sang some more songs. We had a great time. His name was J.C. or Jim Lindsay. He said he was Chickasaw, but I still think he was Munsee. He said he was a sixteenth, but I could see he was more like half to quarter. He used to write songs for a band named Sin, which was popular some time in the late sixties. But he also had near misses with bands like CS&N, and the Eagles. He said he was playing at the same bar as Jimmy Buffet in Florida, but on a different night of the week, when Jimmy B was discovered. He says, “If they’d come in on my night, they would have discovered me, and I’d be as famous as he is now!” He had opened for Lynnard Skynnard and Bonnie Raitt. He had a thousand stories of near-misses. Having been in the entertainment biz I believed them and had a few to share myself. I sang him a song I wrote for Arlo Guthrie to sing, one which he never sang. J.C. said, “You beat Arlo Guthrie all the hell on that guitar! Forget him! Just sing it yourself!” That was nice. I really enjoyed all the songs J.C. sang. Kinda reminds me of me. Small world. He also knew Clark White Bird by the way. Another small world connection. He showed me a Traffic album I had never seen or even read about, and he played a few cuts for me. The most small-world coincidence of all, he helped to build the recording studio that I recorded much of Contemplations in, at Magnetic North. I said it was a pretty good studio….except for the fact there was no air when you turned off the AC, but then I added..but that’s true of every recording studio.There’s never any air!”

He said, “I hate it when they try to get a perfect clean sound; it makes it so unnatural. When I record, I want the listener to hear the sound of the wind, the sound of my fingers, the sound of wood creaking under my weight. I want it to sound natural. Ted Timreck is of pretty much the same mind, and I think today we achieved it.

I had fish and talked on the phone to the family, and was up til 3 AM doing research verifying the information I shared on the film. Apparently the tree books see Pinchot’s Juniper as the Texas version of the plant, which has a red berry, but there is a one-seed version that can grow here and has blue berries. Plus its Jimson Weed that is deadly, but Juniper Berries also induce visions, not as toxic. Also there is a Elizaville formation that has quartzite, but not like Shawangunk, so I think. Raymundo agreed to lend me the little chunk he found on the ground for testing.