Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The power of a Turtle October 1, 2020

 

Leonardo, up close in Zimmerman, Minnesota.

 

THE SIGHT OF LEONARDO standing strong and tall at the wheel of a motorboat left me feeling simultaneously nostalgic and amused.

Amused because, well, who expects a fictional turtle piloting a parked boat in Zimmerman, Minnesota? The scene caused me to laugh. And, today more than ever during these unsettling and difficult times, I need laughter.

I need laughter to loosen muscles that are too often tight. A head that too often hurts from hearing too much hatred and rhetoric. I need this momentary visual escape from reality.

 

Figurines displayed at a past toy exhibit at the Steele County History Center, Owatonna. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

And so, as I photographed this cartoon character manning a stationery boat in a residential neighborhood, I also remembered how my daughters—children of the 80s— watched the superhero cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And embraced the four turtles named after Italian Renaissance artists. Leonardo. Michelangelo. Donatello. Raphael.

They played with Turtle figurines, sang the cartoon theme song, even celebrated a birthday with a home-crafted Turtle cake, although I no longer recall which character or which daughter.

The masked hero in the boat is Leonardo, the leader of the quartet and named for artist, engineer and scientist Leonardo da Vinci.

 

A design allowing actors to fly across a stage, included in the “Machines in Motion” exhibit. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2012.

 

In 2012, I toured an exhibit, “Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion,” at The History Museum at the Castle in Appleton, Wisconsin. To see a show originating in Florence, Italy, here in the Midwest was a gift. The exhibit featured 40 operating machines built from da Vinci designs. Amazing. (I encourage you to check out my photos and story about “Machines in Motion” by clicking here.)

 

One last look at the unusual “public art” in Zimmerman.

 

Now, eight years later, I am reminded of that museum exhibit. I am reminded, too, of my daughters, now grown into adulthood and one with children of her own. I am reminded also that, in the chaos and uncertainties of today, I can find a reason to laugh. Thank you, Zimmerman boater, for placing Leonardo inside your boat parked on your front lawn. You made me laugh.

TELL ME: What has caused you to laugh recently?

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

10 Responses to “The power of a Turtle”

  1. I had a good chuckle this morning that put a smile on my face too 🙂 This lady was walking her Golden this morning and his feet went from concrete to grass and boy did he just start dancing. If he was not such a good boy on a leash I am sure he would have rolled and rolled. Goldens are such happy pups with smiles and so excited for everybody and everything too – ha! Happy Day – Hello! October – Enjoy!!!

  2. Ruth Says:

    Love that Leonardo and the nostalgic trip to Ninja Turtle toys. My grandson 5 loved them right now. I’m sewing a Flannel Ninja turtle Pillowcase with pizza as the border. I got a chuckle too, Audrey. Good to feel the laughter. You’re right.

  3. valeriebollinger Says:

    I got a funny card in the mail this week that made me laugh…about punctuation in the wrong place.
    It was fun to receive and to laugh.

  4. Beth Ann Says:

    That is so perfect — what a great visual this is. My boys were TMNT fans and had quite a collection. The one year I made amazing Halloween costumes they still talk about . Cowabunga, dude. Thanks for the memories.


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