At the Zoo

Something tells me it’s all happening at the zoo.

I do believe it, I do believe it’s true.

The monkeys stand for honesty.

Giraffes are insincere.

The elephants are kindly but they’re dumb.

Orangutans are skeptical of changes in their cages

And the zookeeper is very fond of rum.

Zebras are reactionaries,

Antelopes are missionaries.

Pigeons plot in secrecy

And hamsters turn on frequently.

What gas you got to come and see

At the zoo. – Paul Simon

Visiting the zoo L-R, Maggie's friend Allison, the child she babysits Cole, Maggie, and Lilly

Visiting the zoo L-R, Maggie’s friend Allison, the child she babysits Cole, Maggie, and Lilly

The town in which I grew up had no zoo. Arguably when things got crazy at the bakery it seemed like a zoo, but for all intents and purposes, no zoo in Columbus, Nebraska.

Omaha, on the other hand, had a zoo. It still does. In fact, I think Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo is quite respected by people who know things about zoos. For my part, I can’t tell you a thing about it because, despite the fact that I was born in Nebraska, in a town only about 65 miles or so from the Henry Doorly Zoo, I never once went to that zoo.

Why? Because 65 miles might as well have been 500 miles. It was as likely that we would jump in the car and go to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha as it was that we would drive to Chicago to the Lincoln Park Zoo. For various reasons, in those days, 65 miles was a commitment. And one we didn’t often make.

We went to Omaha twice a year – to go back-to-school shopping in the days before we wore school uniforms and at Christmas to see the decorations at the shopping mall.

Nowadays, it isn’t unusual for me to drive 100 miles or more in a single day. Particularly here in the Phoenix metro area which is spread out and things are far away from each other. But even back in Colorado, if I make a trip to the Denver Zoo, by time I pick up my grandkids, drive to the zoo, spend a few hours, drive them back home, and drive myself home, it is an easy 70 or 75 miles. And I do it often. Without blinking an eye.

Here’s the thing. Mom loved zoos. Or at least she loved the Denver Zoo after they moved to Colorado. We spent many a weekend afternoon at the Denver Zoo. Mom would pack up one of her famous picnics and Jen and her kids and Court and I would meet them at the zoo. If Bec and/or Dave and their families were in town, that was even better. We loved a day at the zoo.

Years ago when Bill and I were first married, we had memberships at the Museum of Natural History, the Art Museum, the Botanical Gardens, and Colorado Historical Museum, and of course the Denver Zoo. Eventually as the kids grew up and moved away, we dropped our memberships. Except

Austin is getting ready to take the plunge into the water

Austin is getting ready to take the plunge into the water

for the zoo.

Because like Mom, I love the zoo. Which is why I have a membership at both the Denver Zoo and the Phoenix Zoo. And I get my money’s worth out of both.

Yesterday Maggie and her kids invited me to join them and a friend of hers for an early-morning visit to the Phoenix Zoo. We were there by 9 o’clock, and walked around when it was still fairly quiet and cool. The

Phoenix Zoo has a little water park – one of those venues where water squirts up out of the ground. Quite frankly, that’s where we spent a lot of our time, because Austin has never met a stranger, so he played and played with the new friends he met at the water park.

“What is your friend’s name?” I asked him afterwards. He, of course, had no clue. They didn’t exchange names because it was unnecessary. They couldn’t have had more fun if they had known each other’s names. That’s the way of the world when you’re 4.

Soaking wet and self-proclaimed FREEZING COLD despite the fact that it was in the 80s!

Soaking wet and self-proclaimed FREEZING COLD despite the fact that it was in the 80s!

So, like Paul Simon, I think it’s all happening at the zoo; I do believe it, I do believe it’s true.

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