The lady who cleaned the turtles: A pandemic story with a timely message

turtle on landIn their blog, Mark and Angel Hack Life, authors Mark and Angel Chernoff offer lessons about strategies for finding lasting happiness, success, love and peace through different stories. One in particular caught the attention of innkeepers at Distinctive Inns of New England (DINE). We’d love to share this story because the moral offers such insight into the differences that DINE innkeepers can make one getaway at a time.

In his story, Mark Chernoff talks about how every Sunday he would see the same older woman sitting at the side of a lake as he took his daily jog.  One day he decided to stop and see what she was doing and found that she had a small metal cage next to her.  Inside the cage were three small turtles and the woman had a fourth turtle in her lap.

He asked what she was doing with the turtles and the woman told him that she was cleaning off their shells because if anything grows on a turtle’s shell, like algae or scum, it will reduce the turtle’s ability to absorb heat and impedes its ability to swim plus corrode and weaken the shell over time.  The woman explained that she spends hours each Sunday morning helping the little turtles out.  The woman told Mark it was her own small way of making a difference in the world.

Mark questioned the woman saying that most freshwater turtles probably live their whole lives with algae and scum hanging from their shells, and although her efforts were kind, wouldn’t her time be better spent, since she can’t help 99-percent of the turtles?  He actually asked her how her localized efforts could possibly make a difference (a little bold, we think!)

The woman looked up and giggled out loud and then looked down at the little turtle in her lap, while scrubbing off the last piece of algae from its shell, and said to him, “Sweetie, if this little guy could talk, he’d tell you I just made all the difference in the world.”

Rabbit Hill Inn holding HUGS signWe in DINE country share this story because much like the woman helping turtles, now more than ever innkeepers are helping people escape their pandemic lives at home and offering a refuge to a few travelers at a time.  While DINE innkeepers can’t make life better every single day for every person, they can make a difference for a few days in the lives of the travelers who stay with them and whose lives have been figuratively filled with the algae and scum of worry over the past few months.

It’s amazing what time away from the cares and worries of homeschooling, health concerns, and job insecurity will do to clear the head and jumpstart hope. Each person that visits a DINE inn leaves refreshed thinking what a difference that few days of indulging in kindness and hospitality made in their lives. Innkeepers can quite literally clear the weakened shells of travelers with just a two day escape from the pressure of the pandemic. We call it healing hospitality.

We write about all the ways that DINE innkeepers have made a difference in the lives of their guests through exceptional and above-and-beyond kindness in this story called Tea and Sympathy.  Like the lady that sheds the turtles of the coatings on their skin, a stay at a DINE inn, filled with the hospitality and kindness of innkeepers can have the same impact.

Elizabeth Aruda at Inn at English MeadowsChoose your next uplifting getaway from any of the 11 Distinctive Inns of New England at All of these award winning inns have put great effort and energy into new safety and sanitizing protocols to provide the most safe and memorable experience.  When you book your DINE getaway, don’t forget to book direct!

In Massachusetts:  Harbor Light Inn in Marblehead, Gateways Inn & Restaurant in Lenox, Deerfield Inn in Historic Deerfield and Captain’s House Inn in Chatham on Cape Cod.

In Vermont:  Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford & Grafton Inn in Grafton

In New Hampshire:  Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness & Chesterfield Inn in West Chesterfield

In Connecticut: Inn at Harbor Hill Marina in Niantic

In Maine:  Camden Maine Stay Inn in Camden and Inn at English Meadows in Kennebunkport.


Top photo: Patio dining at Captain’s House Inn. Credit:  Captain’s House Inn

Turtle photo: Credit:

Innkeeper, Leslie, with “hugs” sign: Credit Rabbit Hill Inn

Bottom photo: Elizabeth, innkeeper at Inn at English Meadows. Credit: Distinctive Inns of New England.