Keeping Time on the Back of a Turtle

June 8th, Tuesday, This morning I had a lot of pills to take and things to take care of, trying to make peace with my body which is undergoing healing. Then there was a phone call, and I was a few minutes late for my panel meeting at Stony Kill on bringing ethnic diversity to Outdoor Education, with Reba Lax, regional director of NYSOED. The company was august to say the least. Nate Davis, a good-looking big burly black man who is a pioneer in the field of Ecological Justice, (Arbor Hill Environmental Justice Corp) Rodney Davis, (his brother I presume) also with EJ, Yaritza Cuevas, director of the Greenbelt Outdoor Education Center at Staten Island; Ranger Rick from Urban Park Rangers, and the legendary Brother Yusuf from Brooklyn and Albany, who works to help reformed ex-convicts find peaceful work in the community. We had a lively discussion on how to involve the full range of ethnic backgrounds in the environmental field. I was a spokesperson for aboriginal concerns. Nate talked about “quibbling” and I responded. We agreed that when teachers are subconsciously closed to the values of an ethnicity, they tend to quibble with the beliefs of the other person, and their ways of expressing it, leading to tension and loss of interest. Yaritza was very lively and enthusiastic. I explained some of the native history of her immediate region in Staten Island, and she invited me to come down at some point to look around, perhaps talk to her people. I said that many people who hail from Puerto Rico have Taino blood and are therefore part of the Native American community. She raised her hand and said, “That’s me! My Grandmother is Taino!” I also mentioned that there is an affinity between most blacks and Native Americans via the Cherokee, and all heartily agreed.

Later on I had a one on one discussion of calendar turtles with Ranger Rick, who is an expert on turtles, but did not know that the local Lenape used the backs of certain turtles as calendars, with 13 moons of 28 days, marking 364 days of the year. We found that most turtles have 13 central “moon” platelets, but the outer ring varies, always just short of 28, which is easily remedied by marking. He said scientists today also mark the outer ring in order to identify individuals!

Reba Lax took us on a tour of the site, and we visited the VerPlanck servant’s quarters from 1760. I recounted how the great Wappingers Chief Daniel Nimham was apparently friendly with the family (as they had a son Daniel at the time) and probably visited this house. Such a friendship between Nimham and the Dutch leading family shows a real dedication to diplomacy and peace, given the circumstances.

Today was the Venus solar eclipse. I completely rewrote “Madly In Love” a tragic-comic screenplay about a crazy couple; she is a somewhat violent person who falls in love with a pacifist who is involved in trying to kill the President,.and she’s trying to stop him. Of course it is filled with irony and satire. I printed out one copy to take to the city. I also posted an article on space weapons to peacefile.org.