Sunday, August 13, 2006

High Five

The heat -- or at least the infernal humidity -- had broken. And an erratic sleeping schedule over the past few days had created a fussy Monkey and a fatigued Monkey Daddy. Rather than stay shut in with the Boy, I put two and two together and took him to the Zoo.

New animals for the Monkey: anteaters, sea lions, and beavers.

The anteaters(!) are personal acquaintances of my friend, who used to be Curator and Lead Keeper of the Nashville Zoo (the former home of the anteaters). They are kind of the same size and shape as our dog, but with more extravagant tails. (And is it rude to mention that their noses are slightly on the large side?)

The sea lion show was just beginning as the Monkey and I rolled past. We spent the previous weekend at my parents' condo in Virginia and had taken him for his first swim. With the concepts of swimming and pools recently acquired, the sea lions appeared to make an impact.

The beavers sat around in the sun and scratched themselves. I don't know what kind of an impact they might have had.

My goal for the trip was to go to the Bird House, where exotic birds run around and shriek. The peacock was especially raucous, and the ducks were cavorting nicely. Afterwards, we sat on a bench and I fed the Monkey his lunch. Then we walked back towards the main zoo via a long bridge suspended over an active construction site where a new Asian environment is being built.

Below us were a large steamshovel and a bulldozer. They were working in amazing synchrony: the steamshovel would scrape and gather a large mound of dirt; the bulldozer would plow into it; the steamshovel would swing laterally into the mound to top off the bulldozer; and away the dozer bulled, back up the hill from whence it came. Literally tons of steel were swinging around and coming within scant feet of each other. It was impressive.

At some point, the bulldozer went off on its merry way, and wasn't coming back anytime soon. The steamshovel operator, seeing the transfixed Monkey on the bridge above, brought his shovel to its full extension: just a few feet below where we watched from the bridge. Then the operator had the shovel wag up and down, in a crude hydraulic simulacrum of a wave.

I felt like giving the steamshovel a high five right back.

On the way back, we briefly paused by the elephants and the giraffes. But the Monkey was tired, stuggling to keep up his engagement, and too well fed. So we boogied for home and he fell asleep in the car. At home, I lifted him out of the car seat and he barely stirred. I brought him to his crib and he slept for two hours.

I wondered back to our first trip to the zoo, when I barely knew how to feed him or get him to nap, and when the sight of a giraffe spun the gears of his little Monkey brain like tops.

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