Sunday, June 27, 2010

birthday safari

Happy Birthday to you, you belong in the zoo........I agree heartily with the sentiment. We live less than a five minute drive from a wonderful zoo. Our grandson is four today, and so we have leapt into our cars and pulled into the zoo parking lot one after another. The exotic, the dangerous, and the rare abound, but the birthday boy is overjoyed with the playground. Rain has watered the slides but the swings dangle invitingly. He scrambles on and I obediently assume my post. Soon he is sailing up, up, and back, "Higher, higher," he sings out. "Up to the sky. Look, I'm big enough for this swing," he calls out exultantly to his parents, leaning back dangerously. A peacock sways and swirls past and in the distance a huge turkey struts stiff legged in its pen. "Let's see if we can make the turkey gobble," I beg. Crouched before its fence, at eye level, I make a chirring, whirring sound. What the turkey lacks in brain, he makes up for in vanity. He swivels round and struts toward the fence importantly, fanning out all of his feathers. His gobble is so loud and unexpected that we jump and stumble backward, laughing. " I don't want him to gobble again," my grandson confides. We hasten on to a quieter zoo resident, an ancient turtle gazing about his heated quarters. Wallabies are next. A tiny face appears briefly at the edge of the pouch and disappears. The mother turns her back and lays down. When she shifts and stands, the little fellow is left standing bewildered on the damp, cold ground. He dives into his mamma's pouch head first, and somersaults completely around and out again onto the ground. This is repeated to our delight, a second time. Three times the charm and he finally, amazingly, dives into the deep warm safety of the pouch, long lanky back legs, tail and all. The giraffes, large, medium, small and extra small are almost an anti climax after that performance. It's suddenly train time and we lope off to the station. All aboard, past lion and tiger and wolf, past bison and swimming hippo; Large nosed moose, spotted deer, camel and zebra. The train picks up speed and flies up the home stretch, its wheels shrieking. Hang on, hang on. A white owl glides over the upturned heads of visitors and grips the outstretched, gloved hand. Up to the station we sweep. "That train needs its wheels oiled, Gramma," my grandson informs me soberly. Little boy, so wise, may you always find joy in the simple, safety on the journey, and love all around you.

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