"A thing may be too sad to be believed or too wicked to be believed or too good to be believed; but it cannot be too absurd to be believed in this planet of frogs and elephants, of crocodiles and cuttle-fish."~~ G.K. Chesterton
Amen to that! We spent much of yesterday at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium downtown. We've had no vacation time at all this summer, and I think every one of us in the family is feeling that loss. So D. and I decided we should at least try to get in one or two short "family outings" of the day trip variety before fall fully arrives. The sweet girl has been longing for the zoo (as well as the beach, and a yard, and her grandparents, and a tricycle...but hey, we can't do much about the rest of those right now, so off to the zoo we went!).
Every time I visit the zoo -- and I think this was the third time in four years -- I come away more amazed than ever by the creativity and sheer diversity of creation. To know that we're looking at just a tiny sliver of what's out there, and to see such a plethora of interesting, odd, funny, beautiful and sometimes downright absurd looking animals and fish (not to mention plants) is breathtaking. I love the Chesterton quote above, and it's particularly apt for yesterday as we spent time gawking at both crocodiles and elephants.
The crocodiles were four of the "dwarf" variety. At first I thought they were babies, but the sign next to their enclosure read "dwarf crocodiles" so I guess they were full size. They were just a few feet long, but oh so menacing. Two of them sunned lazily in the water, their bodies mostly submerged and their heads and eyes protruding just above the surface. The other two lay on the banks; one was asleep but the other had his jaws wide open and his listless hooded eyes never blinked. They were both so still you couldn't see them breathe. They looked like bronze statues. People beside me were wondering if they were real at first, and after a while I think most of us felt a combination of eerie admiration and thankfulness that there was a concrete wall between us and the water. I got the distinct impression that the jaws and eyes wide open crocodile was trying to bluff us all so he could find a way to lure us in. Kind of bizarre.
The elephants were something else again. There were a few outside we got to watch, but then we got to see two of them close up in an enclosure. We watched them eat their dinner (well, my daughter insisted it was still afternoon so they were having lunch) and those long, sweeping trunks, so leathery and wrinkled and yet so elegant and almost delicate in their sniffing, shuffling and lifting, were a wonder to behold. The biggest elephant was really hungry; we watched him sniff out and sweep up a large pile of "salad" on the floor of the pen, mostly apples, carrots and lettuce. His nose would sniffle along, oh so delicately, find what it wanted, and then curl around it and swirl it up to his mouth (often a whole head of lettuce at a time!) just as elegantly and fastidiously as an experienced diner might swirl spaghetti on the tines of a fork.
A lovely day. Even though my back is still aching from all the walking we did!