The ramblings of a freelance writer, novelist and avid reader.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Month of Fundays: Day 18 – Going to the Zoo on Borrowed Time

One of my favorite childhood memories:
My mom came to get me at school one day during those elementary school years. I don’t think I’d been there long that day when I got called down to the principal’s office and there she was talking about a doctor’s appointment she didn’t want to be late for. I was six, what did I know? I remember driving for awhile before noticing the brown zoo signs along the road. I wished I was going to the zoo instead of the doctor’s. And then, miraculously my mom pulled into a place and all I saw was the giant wooden moose in the shape of an “M” and my mom grinning at me from ear to ear. No doctor’s, no work and no school that day. We spent all day with the animals and each other. It was a good day, a fun day: A memory making day.

This is a lesson my mother instilled in me at an early age: It’s OK to borrow some time every once in a while – take a day off, do something fun at the last minute. I’ve noticed sometimes spontaneity works out better than a strategic plan.

Another borrowed-time memory:
My senior year of high school I was car pooling (well, she was driving) with my friend Angie. Side note to Angela if you are reading this: I hope it is OK to share this story now; I know you got creative at your wedding gift opening when you found that Indiana Jones CD strapped to whatever-it-is-we-got-you from your registry. We entered the school through the band doors one day, turned to each other, said, “I don’t think so!” at the same time, and promptly left the building. Yep, no school that day. We went back to my place where my mom called me in – because she’s always been that way – and either Angie or I pretended to be her mom and called her in as well. The rest of the day was spent on the living room furniture watching all three (yes, there were only three then) Indiana Jones movies and talking. Wow, we were rebels. Still, I don’t remember a lot about high school but I remember that day. It was more than fun; it too was a memory making day.

The memory-making present:
So for the last four days (or whenever it is I publish these posts) I’ve been talking about my 4 day mini-break with Chris. And now we are on day 5. Well see, that’s the thing. I didn’t expect day 5. It wasn’t supposed to happen. I took 4 days off of the part-time job-hobby and knew that was all it could be. But then I was gifted a 5th day from the part-time job-hobby. A borrowed day entirely unplanned for! Of course we went to the zoo. The Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth: Because neither Chris nor I have actually been there and because they have kangaroos. Kangaroos. To be honest, the state parks we spent time in during the mini-break let us down on the animal front. I saw a deer – something I see in my yard in Bloomington on a weekly basis – standing underneath a deer crossing sign, but that was about it. Alas, I don’t have a picture of the deer waiting to cross at the deer crossing sign; it made me laugh for at least 5 miles though. Chris was driving, so he didn’t even see a deer on our trip. The zoo has animals though, right?

Why is the zoo fun?
I don’t know. I don’t have kids, so that’s not it. Maybe it is just the story of the gifted day from my childhood, maybe I just like to look at animals, who knows. I enjoy people watching a good deal too, so maybe I’m just a voyeur. Not a creepy Rear Window one, though. I always ask questions without answering anything. It’s just fun, OK. Go look at some animals already.

The Lake Superior Zoo is much smaller than I thought it would be. There were advertisements all over the place going up to Duluth and even more signs further north. I was expecting something like the MN Zoo and ended up with something more like Como Zoo – but not for free ($2 donation. Those old lady volunteers outside Como are scary. Do not cross them by attempting to avoid “donating”). Duluth zoo: small but nice. We saw a lot of animals: Kangaroos!, a polar bear, lions and tigers and bears. There was a great horned owl stretching in some weird yoga/cat pose and then schooling me with his owl eyes for watching said stretching. We saw tamarinds and lemurs; lots of frogs, crazy bats, tiger kitties, a black swan and kookaburras (who – thank you elementary school music classes – will always sit in the old gum tree) were all in residence. We didn’t see the grey wolves even though their exhibit is new, the bald eagle seemed to be missing and I had the most fun watching Cletus the slack-jawed yokel and his family of ten wandering off the path constantly while jabbering about the bad animal smell and lack of high fences. Cletus found a peacock feather on the ground, told his young’uns, “We aren’t here for no mountain climbing” and then promptly chased a peacock through the zoo. Really, you can’t ask for more fun than that; or a better way to spend our borrowed day.

Picture: Your favorite animal at the zoo.

Song: It’s not at all original but I’m going to have to go with The Troggs’ “Wild Thing” or the Jimi Hendrix version if you prefer.

Tomorrow: Hanging Out With Good Friends


  1. I love the zoo. My favorites have always been the emperor tamarins; they are the coolest monkey. They are followed closely by sea lions.

    I actually decided to comment because of the peacock pic, simply because you how there's always a bird on jungle noise soundtracks that goes "ee-yah ee-yah" really shrill-like? That's a peacock, and I find it funny.

  2. I had no idea, I always thought that sound was a monkey. And yay! fun fact from Anna.

    Also, I was going to tell you a fun fact I learned on the mini-break about moth scales being larger than butterfly scales and that's why they look furrier...and then Hank Green went ahead and did a vlog post on butterflies that was much more interesting. Those vlogbrothers - always stealing my thunder.