I’m struck at how Mother Nature protects her young sometimes. Take these chestnuts.

Chestnuts in their protective case

Chestnuts in their protective case


The outer seed case is flexible yet so hedgehogly spiky that it does damage to those people on whose heads it falls or who step on it or pick it up before the case is fully mature enough to be opened. Inside is a fleecy protective inner layer for the chestnuts as they huddle together away from the autumn rain and wind that have separated from them from the tree. And Mama N has posed a challenge to anyone who wants to get at the sweet nuts inside: they have to wait until the case is yellow and leathery and ready to be broken. The chestnuts might lie there under the tree, but if they germinate there they won’t grow in the shade of their parent. They rely on a squirrel (or a human) transporting them and tearing at it with its sharp little claws or burying and forgetting about them until they germinate. I do that all the time.

It reminds me somehow of being a parent: you allow your children to develop and protect them as fiercely as a spiky chestnut case until they are mature enough to break out and grow away from you. Nature is very careful about chestnuts but not so careful with these baby turtles in Nikoi, facing so many hazards before even their first dash to relative safety in the sea. I wonder about this too. Why not? What is the plan? Is there a plan?


Late evening in August on Nikoi Island, Indonesia, and these endangered baby leatherback turtles start their hazardous dash to the sea, running the gauntlet of lizards and other predators.