What I find rewarding about going to the zoo with friends is the opportunity to share sights, sounds, and memories which create closeness. Friendships may go up or dip way down occasionally, but going on a journey together brings the union into a good perspective.
My wife and I had been estranged from our friends DD and Maurice for about a year now. A bitter disagreement between the wives initiated the estrangement. I thought that this trip to the zoo would create experiences that could replace some of the bitterness.
Once inside the gate, we first stopped at the monkey enclosures. Among the group of roaming monkeys, one female monkey sits atop an old log with a tiny baby monkey hanging on her chest for dear life. This monkey business is an interesting observation. Great friendships are so rare we must hang on desperately to what we have and try to make it better.
After snapping a few pictures, we moved down a pathway toward the rest of the exhibits. We crossed a medium bridge that reached across the still lake water. Full of algae on one side and pure water on the other side, made it seem that we were in two different realities: one alive and beaming with life and the other, smothering and gasping for breath underneath the green algae.
We came upon the bird show about five minutes later. Maurice and DD were enjoying the sights and scenery. Maurice walked pretty confidently using his walking cane. His first suggestion was to leave the cane in the car and attempt to walk the Zoo grounds without it.
But this suggestion was quickly put down by his wife DD. Carrying the walking cane along the journey was the right decision.
The bird show was full of men, women, and children sitting on the bleachers. The woman in front, who was demonstrating tricks with various birds, kept the crowd quite interested. She called forward many types of birds. They obeyed her voice. Eagles, Owls, Parakeets and many other birds (fast, slow, and wild with flapping winds) all gave a good performance.
Taking snapshots of these winged creatures proved frustrating at times, especially when you cannot get your autofocus on your camera to act right.
My wife and DD sit next to the end of the bleachers. They were talking and smiling about the characteristics of some of the birds. My life was a little disappointed because we arrived just moments before the Bald Eagle demonstration was over. She wanted a snapshot of this magnificent bird. Nevertheless, her reconciliatory spirit seemingly helped her deal with the failed opportunity. We moved on.
The brown bear exhibit was quite the attraction. Little children with their hands glued to the glass enclosure stared at the huge creature, unafraid.
I took my camera and took several shots of the playful bear. It swam from one end of the pool to the other, diving underneath and then emerging with its massive head, with furious eyes that startled the onlookers.
Maurice and I took pictures but the bear‘s movements were like lightning, I had to get my camera to focus faster. DD and my wife stood across from us, staring at another huge sleeping bear. I could tell by the joyfulness of their conversation that the fire of reconciliation burned within their hearts.
After moving from exhibit to exhibit like busy bumble bees, we soon felt like we could drink up an entire water fountain. We were also very hungry. The food was the next agenda.
Maurice and I ordered a cheeseburger stacked with bacon and lettuce and other delicious toppings. The women ordered chicken sandwiches. I would say that the ladies were trying to stay healthy if they hadn’t bought a chocolate shake to go along with their food.
Nevertheless, Maurice and I ordered the same shake as well. It looked too tempting to pass up.
“The food is delicious,” said my wife. “I know, “said Maurice. I nodded an agreement while my mouth was full of burger.
DD was quiet at first while eating a couple of French fries. “You know guys. We should never let anything come before our friendship again.” “Maurice and I miss you guys.” It was a humbling confession for all of us. “We missed you guy too,” we said. “I missed the children as well,” said my wife. “They’ll like our own.”
We didn’t have children. But we knew other people who had them, and we had helped raised most of them. Besides, I was a school teacher. I had thousands of children.
Nevertheless, we all were reunited again. We vowed never to let anything come between our friendships again, especially if the balance of our relationship was in our hands to save and cherish.
Now after eating and settling our differences, we were strengthened and ready to continue our journey
Our next stop was in the tropics. The underwater sea life always fascinated me. I took several pictures from above, capturing the coral reefs and exotic fishes swimming below. As I pointed my camera at a certain spot, a little shark, and other fishes entered the space. Then I took the perfect shot.
Maurice was sitting on the bench. I could tell that the pain within his feet was beginning to take a toll on him. The walking cane was very much a godsend now. He knew it too. Usually, he would be taking pictures as well.
The women stayed their distance from us, smiling and talking to each other. Eventually, they made their way toward the bench with Maurice and took a brief rest until I was finished with my photography and ready to head to the next big deal.
By this time Maurice was moving as slow as a turtle, his walking cane supporting his full weight at times. But he attempted not to show any emotion but dragged close behind us.
The final and last exhibit happened to be one of the most beautiful experiences with butterflies. After waiting for seven minutes to get inside, the tour girl opened the curtains and explained the rules of engagement with the gorgeous insect.
Maurice decided to have a seat at the entrance near the door. Obviously, he no longer wanted to endure the pain in his feet another minute. Why should he? These were just butterflies.
However, for me, these butterflies were symbols of beauty and grace. Wherever they flew the land was glorified with peace and joyfulness. The black swallowtail butterfly was one of the most beautiful ones, with a design of yellow outlining its wings. It sits still on a leaf while I adjusted my camera to macro and took multiple shots of the Swallow Tail as well as Monarch Butterfly.
The ladies were well ahead of me, in a world of their own. They knew each other again. No more strangers or bitterness. Memories had been created. My heart filled with joy as I took the last picture of a giant handsome moth next to the exit.
“It that it” asked the ladies. I hesitated as a looked at Maurice and then at the entrance marked the Medtronic Minnesota Trail. “Yes, I said. We are done.”