While in Florida for a visit with my parents, my Mom, her friend Sylvia & I had gone for a little outing. Sylvia wanted to show me a local point of interest 'The Chalet Suzanne'. It is kind of a mini museum/restaurant/Inn & of all things, a lake that was filled with dozens and dozens of turtles. As you look out across the water from inside the restaurant you can see the turtles swimming about. Or, if you are feeling adventurous, you may bring a little something out to the pond to feed them.
While we were there we met a woman name Claire. We got to talking and she told me why she was at the Chalet that day.
The story really began years ago. In Claire's words, "As a child my older sister and I would buy red ear slider turtles and would spend hours racing and playing with them. Over the years we had several turtles and created many cherished memories as kids together.
One day, years later, there was a man selling red ear slider turtles on the side of the road. With childhood memories soaring through my mind, we had to stop and check them out. We bought two, which we named Rick, after my husband, and Claire, after myself. Before long we had purchased five more turtles and they shared a nice little pond together at our home in Orlando, Florida."
Claire named each of the turtles after herself and beloved family members. There
was Claire, Rick (her husband), Bill (Dad), Bunn (Mom), John (Father-In-Law),
Barbara (Mother-In-Law), and Bo (Uncle). The turtles were part of Claire's family for over thirteen years and she had become quite attached to them
However as her pets continued to grow she knew the little pond on her property did not provide enough room to do what turtles loved to do. They no longer had the freedom to swim about and bask in the sun as it was just getting too cramped. She made the difficult decision to find them a larger place to live.
Prior to making her decision Claire and her husband had spent many happy
occasions at Chalet Suzanne. Enjoying fine meals followed by time spent feeding the turtles that inhabit the lake there. She felt this large, clean lake was the place for her babies to now call home. They would be with the dozens or
more of their kind and have plenty of room to enjoy life. Knowing guests of the Inn, along with area children, go to the pond to feed the turtles throughout the year helped.
When Claire and her family were headed outside to the pond I asked if I could tag
along, watch and perhaps take a few photos. She was thrilled!
Her husband Rick, her Sister Kathy, and her Brother in-in-law Allen were there
to lend moral support as they knew this was not easy for her.
As Claire was setting about to let her babies go there were children laughing
and feeding the current turtle residents. There was also a choir next door singing,
rehearsing songs for Easter Services which would be held the next day.
Lovingly Claire picked each turtle up , called them by name, and slowly, if a bit
reluctantly brought them down to the water. As she said goodbye she also told them she would miss them and hoped they would be OK. The current pond
residents gathered around as if welcoming the newcomers to the neighborhood.
I sent the photos I had taken to Claire and she sent me a lovely email of thanks if which the following is a part:
"It was hard to let them go but God provided me with many unexpected events that day that reinforced my plan. As my family sat to eat breakfast at the Chalet a beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived at our table with a card that read "We Love You Mom, Thanks for letting us go, With Love, The Turtles".
The Choir singing, a photographer that volunteered to take photos, children laughing, God is good!!!! He provided surroundings to let me know I was doing the right thing, out of love for them. My husband was amazed that as I placed each turtle in the water they turned back and looked at me as if to say " Is this OK? and Goodbye".'
Claire & Rick have already been back to the Inn to see how her little ones
are faring in their new home. From the way they took to the water the day they
were released I believe it is safe to say they are quite happy in their new
Many people have pets; dogs, cats, rabbits, and in the case of my sister Marie,
a whole farm filled with many different animals. It does not matter the breed, size, or number of animals you have they, more often than not, each end up very much becoming extensions of your family.
For those who have never owned a pet (s) it can be hard to understand the
emotional attachment to an animal, in this case, turtles, but you could see how
heartbroken Claire was to say goodbye to her babies.....