Reflections On Loss, Hope and Turtles

By Michael Lay | Tuesday, June 18, 2013
A baby turtle found in an excavated nest in September 2012.

It's odd sometimes, how life's challenges can create associations between thoughts or events that seem, on the surface, entirely disconnected. Recently, I lost one of my best friends, and one of the most talented, gracious, erudite and joyful people I've ever known, to cancer. Bracketing that loss, both parents were hospitalized with potentially life-threatening medical emergencies. Shortly after those crises, a cousin with whom I'd spent much of my childhood finally succumbed to the brain cancer he'd courageously battled for more than 20 years. All of this within little more than the span of a month!

Thankfully, both parents fully recovered. And while I am deeply saddened by the passing of my friend and my cousin, my remembrances of them are painted with smiles. The difficulty has been accepting the utter finality of it, trying to come to terms with the fact that those who have passed are truly, permanently gone.

We live during a time of immense change, technologically, socially, politically and environmentally, all interconnected in an intricate web of cause and effect, action and reaction, to which we sometimes seem willfully ignorant. It is a time of great possibilities but, also, a time of devastating loss. Many of our fellow Earth species are on the brink of extinction. And it cannot be denied that much of the life that is disappearing from the world today is disappearing because of us, because of our actions and often our inaction. It is entirely possible that during my nieces' lifetimes the last tiger will disappear from the wild. And the last African elephant. The last white rhino. The last polar bear. Fireflies, the illuminators of many a youthful summer evening, are in decline due to pesticides and habitat loss. Even the ever-dependable honey bee, having successfully pollinated the world for millions of years, is now reeling under the assault of what are widely accepted to be man-made threats. These passings will be every bit as permanent as the passings of my friend and cousin.

The sea turtles who frequent Outer Banks waters and make their nests upon our beaches are unfortunate members of the endangered species club. But, thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, you and your family can learn why sea turtles are endangered and how you can help save these gentle giants during "Turtle Talks on Pea Island," a free hour-long program offered Tuesday, June 25 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Pea Island Visitor Center. The program includes a take-home craft-making activity for the kids. (Please note that this program is repeated every Tuesday through August 27.)

It is government-sponsored educational programs like this that provide a small measure of hope that future generations will not live in a world in which the concept of sea turtles seems just as fantastical as that of unicorns. Some losses are unavoidable, but the loss of a species like the sea turtle is not. We know what needs to be done. We just need to marshal the will to do it.

Other Happenings

Fitness and Running

What better place to increase your fitness and reduce stress than to take advantage of the beautiful, peaceful Duck Town Green for a little free calisthenics or yoga instruction? On Wednesdays from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. through August 28 the calisthenics program presents a variety of body weight-only movement exercises drawn from fitness disciplines from around the world. The yoga program offers instruction to help increase strength, balance and flexibility and is held Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. through August 29. Yoga participants should bring a pilates or yoga mat. Both programs are open to adults of all experience levels. All participants are encouraged to bring a towel and water.

The Outer Banks is crazy for running! These days you can't toss a seashell without it landing in the course of a foot race of one kind or another. Next up is Runcations' 2nd Annual running of the Sunset Spectacular 5k & Carolina Pig Pickin', an out-and-back race that starts and finishes at Jeannette's Pier in Nags Head on Wednesday, June 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The top three male and female finishers will receive custom-designed trophies. The field is limited to 400 participants, so mark your calendar for the on-site registration at Jennette's Pier on Tuesday, June 25 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. The $35 race fee includes an event T-shirt, admission to the post-race luau party catered by Red Sky Café and a finisher medal. Participants can pick up a race packet Tuesday, June 25 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at KnuckleUp Gym in Kitty Hawk. For more information, contact {encode="" title=""}.


Looking for a childens' activity with a creative spin? Take the kids to OBX Artspace Thursday, June 20 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for a memorable art creation experience with local artist Mari Beth LaRose where they'll learn to paint flip-flops on canvas and create their own unforgettable Outer Banks souvenir to treasure forever. Pre-registration is required. The class is $35/child and is suitable for ages 7-12.

On Fridays from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Deja New, a combination art school, furniture store and home improvement center in Kitty Hawk, offers Fun Fridays to children from 5 to 10 years of age. Featuring a different craft each week, Fun Fridays can help put an end to those "Mommy, I'm bored!" complaints. Boys and girls are both welcome for a $20/artist fee. Pre-register is required. Call (252) 207-691 for reservations.

Are there really mermaids and sea monsters? Why not dress up as one of these fantastical creatures and dive into the mythical underwater world of mermaids and sea monsters where you can learn about real-life beasties and explore the enchanting world of the deep blue sea? The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island's Mermaids and Sea Monsters program begins Saturday, June 22 at 10 a.m. The program is suitable for children aged 4 to 8 years old, and all participants must wear closed-toe shoes. Pre-registration is required and the fee is $20/child; $18 for NC Aquarium members.


Back in the 18th century a community's blacksmith was a one-man manufacturing facility, hardware store, mechanic and all-round problem-solver. Whereas today, acquiring a shovel or box of nails requires only a quick visit to the local hardware emporium, just a few generations ago it was a local blacksmith who provided everything from wagon wheels and hitches to horseshoes, hand tools and even nails. According to the 1860 census Roanoke Island had only one blacksmith. He was, no doubt, a very busy man. On Fridays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. join the blacksmith at Island Farm to help swing the hammer and get a feel for the essential services skilled artisans like this once provided to their communities.

The Outer Banks can claim a number of firsts. Among them the Wright brothers' first powered flight is the most well-known. But did you know that the very first shad boat, the official historic state boat of North Carolina, was built right on Roanoke Island by George Washington Creef? On Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m. visit the George Washington Creef Boat House in downtown Manteo and experience a free and unique adventure aboard a locally built shad boat.


If you need a little mid-week break from the sand and surf, take in the outdoor Avon Art Show held Thursday, June 27 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. next to the Hatteras Realty Office in Avon. In addition to displaying the work of more than 35 local artists, the event also features a fish fry of fresh, locally caught fish from 5 p.m. till closing. Great art and freshly prepared local seafood? Hard to beat that combo!

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway

This week you have a chance to win a couples surf lesson from Island Revolution & a $35 gift certificate to Corolla Cantina Bar & Grill!

For more information about Island Revolution, check out their website.

For more information about Corolla Cantina, check out their website.

Last Week's Winner

Congratulations to Debra Clay!!!

You won an Absolutely Wild Horse Tour for two & a $35 gift certificate to Agave Roja!

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway Winner

For more information about Absolutely Wild Horse Tour, check out their website.

For more information about Agave Roja, check out their website.

About the Author Michael Lay
Michael Lay is a local graphic designer, artist, photographer and writer. He lives in picturesque downtown Manteo, NC, and is the manservant of two beautiful and willful feline princesses, Sophie and Sassy. You can contact Michael at