Sunday, May 23, 2021

Writers’ Pantry #71: The Turtle Moves

Greetings, my dearest poets and storytellers. Today is World Turtle Day, a time “to bring attention to, and increase knowledge of and respect for, turtles and tortoises, and encourage human action to help them survive and thrive.” Go ahead, read that sentence three times fast. I triple-turtle dare you.  

I haven’t seen a turtle in ages. I used to visit a bale of turtles that lived in the park where my Piano Man and I had our first date. But we haven’t been there since the pandemic started. I hope they are doing well, having fun (and many healthy babies).

To celebrate World Turtle Day, I wish to share the beginning of Terry Pratchett’s Equal Rites (the book where I first glimpsed my favorite turtle in the whole wide universe):

This is a story about magic and where it goes and perhaps more importantly where it comes from and why, although it doesn’t pretend to answer all or any of these questions.

It may, however, help to explain why Gandalf never got married and why Merlin was a man. Because this is also a story about sex, although probably not in the athletic, tumbling, count-the-legs-and-divide-by-two sense unless the characters get totally beyond the author’s control. They might.

However, it is primarily a story about a world. Here it comes now. Watch closely, the special effects are quite expensive.

A bass note sounds. It is a deep, vibrating chord that hints that the brass section may break in at any moment with a fanfare for the cosmos, because the scene is the blackness of deep space with a few stars glittering like the dandruff on the shoulders of God.

Then it comes into view overhead, bigger than the biggest, most unpleasantly armed starcruiser in the imagination of a three-ring filmmaker: a turtle, ten thousand miles long. It is Great A’Tuin, one of the rare astrochelonians from a universe where things are less as they are and more like people imagine them to be, and it carries on its meteor-pocked shell four giant elephants who bear on their enormous shoulders the great round wheel of the Discworld.

As the viewpoint swings around, the whole of the world can be seen by the light of its tiny orbiting sun. There are continents, archipelagos, seas, deserts, mountain ranges and even a tiny central ice cap. The inhabitants of this place, it is obvious, won’t have any truck with global theories. Their world, bounded by an encircling ocean that falls forever into space in one long waterfall, is as round and flat as a geological pizza, although without the anchovies.

A world like that, which exists only because the gods enjoy a joke, must be a place where magic can survive. And sex too, of course.

The passage always makes me laugh aloud, so I hope that it brewed at least one chuckle out of you. If not, then I hope something else makes you smile today.

Now, let us open the Pantry! Share poetry or prose that is old or new, fiction or nonfiction. Let your contributions be short or longish (if you choose prose, let the word count be 369 words or fewer). One link per participant, por favor. This prompt shall remain open for a week. Write, share, read, comment... And if you get a chance, help a turtle.

- for our next Weekly Scribblings, our Rosemary will invite us to write about waiting.

The Turtle Moves, by Joanna Johnen

 - the title is a quote from Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett.


  1. I'm very fond of Discworld myself. Time to do some rereading, I think. And turtles are wonderful; happy to celebrate them any day.

    1. I thought the same thing, after I read the passage: time to reread some Pratchett. I started with my favorite standalone, after I am done I shall move on to the Discworld.

    2. And yes, turtles are magnificent.

  2. I have a Discworld mouse mat right here beside me, Magaly, and I love turtles! Sadly turtles don't live on our beaches, it's too cold for them here.

    Well, today is the final episode of 'Snow Globe'. I was going to share another story next week, but it will be my last Writers' Pantry before I go to my daughters for a week on 6th June, and I will be taking a much-needed break to edit my husband's memoir, put together a pamphlet (chapbook) of my own, and try to finish my YA novel, The Haunted Tide. I'll miss the regular prompts, reading and commenting, and will be back, hopefully, before Christmas.

    I do have one final story I'd like to leave you with, but I would have to post two episodes next week, if that is allowed.

    1. Awwww, a bit of the Discworld right on your desk. Now, that's magic! You know, Kim, I can't remember ever seeing a turtle in a New York beach. I've only seen them in parks and reserves.

      I can't wait to read conclusion of "Snow Globe". The same goes for your upcoming story, in next week's Pantry. On the posting two episodes bit, I suggest marking the parts clearly within the post. Maybe adding a wee note at the end of part one, letting readers know that part one is your contribution to the Pantry but that part two is available below for our enjoyment. That way they have the choice of reading it or not (I certainty won't be able to resist it). Maybe Rosemary and Rommy will have suggestions as well.

      It seems your next few months will be extra busy, in the best of ways. Have fun and be productive. We shall be here when you return.

    2. I think Magaly's suggestion is a good one! I hope the time away will be wildly successful and we'll look forward to your return.

    3. Magaly's suggestion is an ingenious solution in these exceptional circumstances. We sure don't want to rob you of the chance to share your tale in full, nor rob your eager readers (very much including ourselves) of the opportunity to enjoy it asap!

      An alternative suggestion is that you could post episode one in one post, then schedule ahead of time episode two to post in the next Writers' Pantry after that. However, I realise that would mean you'd have to take time out from your planned activities to respond to comments on episode two. That might work if it comes up soon; or it might be a real nuisance and interference to the flow of those other activities, which are important in their own right. Only you can assess that, so I'll leave my suggestion just as a possibility you might consider.

    4. PS Or you could simply decide not to respond to comments on episode two! (I sometimes don't on my posts, depending on what else is happening for me, and/or the nature of the post.)

    5. And, thinking it through a bit more, one of us could make the link for you here on the due date if we knew in advance to do so.

  3. Happy Sunday to all


    much love...

  4. Magaly, I wish were here with us. In our flood control area, under a walking bridge, are living gobs of them for you to see. From babies to ten or so inches across, none get much bigger than that. And a bunch dissapeared after our really cold winter days this year. It takes less than ten minutes to walk to the bridge for us. If you'd come to Houston we could take you there.
    I'll put a picture in for Wednesday if I post, which I might as I'm getting better after dental surgery, a week ago I had the seven remaining top teeth removed in getting ready an appliance.

    1. Oh, I would love to see the pictures! I've never seen them in big numbers in New York, and not one time in what we could call "the wild". I hope people are being good to them.

      I hope your recovery hasn't been too awful. Dental surgery is a pain in more ways than one. I had three molars pulled last year, from opposite sides on top and bottom--chewing was a bit of a nightmare. My jaw took a while to heal because of my immune system issues. But things are good now. But I still have a few more check ups before I can get implants.

      Be well, Jim.

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