Friday, September 17, 2010

Zoo Redo

Twenty years ago. That is the last time that I visited our State Zoo. Seeing wild animals in cages pacing back and forth or sleeping in a corner is not my favorite activity. It's usually hot, stinky and crowded with a million school kids putting their grimy hand prints all over the glass window and ignoring the "Please Don't Tap" signs.

In 1990 I took Athena, Eris and three nieces. Yesterday I spent the afternoon with Littlest Ms. The day was perfect. Eighty degrees, hardly any other visitors and an almost-5-year-old who had never been to a zoo. She had no idea where we were headed so the surprise made it even better.

The place has made some great changes but much is still the same. The little baby elephant was adorable. The giraffes were still very tall, the apes were still sitting in the corner looking bored, snakes slept under red lights and the beautiful tigers paced back and forth in their outdoor garden. We heard a peacock honk (weird) and saw a tangle of bats in a tree that looked like a bunch of bananas. The camel with the slumpy hump was funny. Littlest said her favorite animal was the orangutan, the orange one.

We rode the same train yesterday that I rode so long ago with the girls and that I rode as a child with my parents. I took pictures of her in the same prairie dog holes. She drank out of the same lion head fountain that I remember from when I was a child.

I'm still not a fan of zoos and probably won't return for another 20 years, maybe at that time with great-grandchildren in tow.

But until that time I will be content to browse my scrapbooks.

For the rest of the story, CLICK.



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Blue Cooler

It's officially over. Let the weeping and wailing begin. Our pool closed (yes, it is OUR pool now) for the winter. On Saturday we spent the perfect afternoon reminiscing about how great the summer had been and how much we all love our new digs.

By the end of August swimming suits are worn out (they each have two) and will barely stay on. Little girls' blond hair turned to green straw about a month ago. Suntans are brown and deep in spite of the religious application of SPF50 and lines will still be visible when new suits are tried on next year. Swimming skills have improved and new diving tricks have been learned.

But some things just don't change. Like my blue cooler.

I picked this monstrosity up as a purchase gift a number of years ago when we were building our home. The thing has all kinds of pockets, compartments and zip-out insulated lining. But the best part is the wheels! I can fill this baby up with soda pop, ice, towels, cameras, swim toys, napkins and still have room for a large variety of treats. No matter how much the seams bulge it follows along effortlessly. Way back before Memorial Day I stocked up on fruit snacks, cheese crackers, granola bars and other goodies, enough to hopefully make it to Labor Day. Little by little the stash was reduced to practically nothing.

Each season I wonder if the blue coolers' best days have passed. For years it has faithfully accompanied me on every outing. I didn't take it last Saturday and was asked a number of times why it wasn't parked in the usual place under the sportbrella. Oh yes, even the little ones know that inside that ugly exterior are sweet goodies of all kinds.

It bears the scars of hard use. Black electrical tape holds two wheel wells in place. The telescoping handle doesn't always lock in place. The bottom plastic is worn and frayed. The telltale odor of chlorine never leaves the interior. Still, it has been thoroughly washed, inside and out, and is resting comfortably in the back of my closet, waiting to be replenished in nine months with treats to make hungry little ones and big ones smile. It will once again hold the Ziploc bag filled with chicken wraps, a bottle of Diet Coke and my blue Hawaii towel.

Until Memorial Day 2011 the distinct sounds of the blue cooler rolling up the sidewalk will be unheard. The quiet is deafening.

To see more pool fun, well, you know the drill.

$3.94 1/2