Posted tagged ‘zoo’

“There was nothing like a Saturday – unless it was the Saturday leading up to the last week of school and into summer vacation. That of course was all the Saturdays of your life rolled into one big shiny ball.”

June 11, 2016

Saturday for my whole life has been the best day. When I was a kid, Saturday was our day to roam the town or to see a movie or to sit and watch Creature Double Feature on TV. Those were the days of black and white movies from the 50’s with cheesy special effects. We didn’t care. We loved those old B movies, and even now, I’ll watch them. I’m never critical. They are fun to watch. Some Saturdays we were out all day rambling. We’d pack a sandwich and some cookies in a brown paper bag knowing we’d be gone most of the day. We followed the railroad tracks, walked to the zoo or watched the dairy cows. We looked in the windows uptown and into the fire station as we walked by it. On warm days the firemen sat on wooden chairs right outside the bays where the fire engines were. We’d walk through the school yard empty of kids. We’d get home in the late afternoon. The winter meant the matinee. I don’t remember ever caring what the movie was. I remember standing in front of the glass display case trying to decide how to spend my nickel. The candy had to be tasty but more importantly, it had to be long lasting. I think my brother chose candy by its projectile possibilities.

When I was a teenager, Saturdays meant sleeping in. During the day I’d hang around or meet up with friends. I remember roaming around Harvard Square, going to the museum and checking out stores. Back then Harvard Square was unique and the stores were not chain stores. I remember we ate at the Wursthouse a few times. I haven’t been to Harvard Square in years except to drive though to somewhere else. It has lost its identity. It is the same as anywhere. On Saturday nights we’d sometimes go bowling. I was never a good bowler, but it was fun.

Saturday nights in college were party nights. Some of my memories are still hazy. We’d find a spot, park the car and party. Those were the days of cheap wine.

In Ghana, Saturday usually meant going to town to shop in the market or at the small kiosks which sold margarine and instant coffee in tins. I’d carry my woven bag and fill it with onions, tomatoes and eggs. Once I found a small watermelon my tomato lady had saved for me to buy. I never saw another one.

When I was back home, Saturday still meant sleeping-in and food shopping, but at a supermarket with too many choices. I’ve always hated food shopping and shlepping in the bags.

Today I woke up at 8. I had two cups of coffee and two pieces of Scali bread toast. I have no plans at all for the day. I’m thinking it is finalize the deck day. I’ll put down the rug, clean the chairs, water the plants, start the fountain and then ceremoniously bring the Travelocity Gnome and the plastic flamingo to their summer homes. They inaugurate deck season every year.

“The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets.”

April 15, 2016

The day is windy and cold but still lovely with lots of sun and a blue sky that even Crayola can’t duplicate. I really have nothing to do today. I spent the morning playing around with my MAC which was a bit feisty. I couldn’t use it until I solved the problem. I seem to be getting much better at healing my MAC.

When I was a kid, today was a big day because at the end of school April vacation started. We had the whole next week off. I don’t remember if the week was warm or not. I just remember my bike was out of the cellar, and we were all over town. We didn’t have a specific destination. We just rode. I remember we went to the zoo a couple of times and through parts of town we didn’t know well. Sometimes we brought our lunches while other times we went home for lunch and a bathroom break though we didn’t really need an inside bathroom. One of my favorite rides was to the farm. The cows were always out in the field and we’d watch a long while. I have a couple of milk bottles from that farm. It is still there, but it sells sod and fertilizer and stuff like that. The cows are long gone.

We’d ride to the next town and around its lake. It was to us a huge lake, and we loved that it was right in the middle of a town. Sometimes on our rides we’d end up where we started while other times we’d only go about halfway around, leave the lake and end up in a different town. That town also bordered my town but on the other side. It was a boring town but it did have a great diner. When I was older and visiting for the weekend, my father would sometimes take my mother and me out for breakfast there. I still love diners. I also still love going out for breakfast.

Every day we did something. Five days away from school were never to be wasted. I don’t remember a whole lot of walking, but I figure we must have gone into the woods and walked to the swamp. We kept careful watch on the seasons at the swamp. We knew when it was warm enough the tadpoles would be there darting away from our fingers. I remember the sun shining on that swamp and warming my back when I was lying down on the grass beside where the tadpoles were. That swamp was one of the neatest places I have ever known.

“We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”

October 13, 2014

No jumping out of bed into the shower this morning, not with the house at 61˚. I was cozy under the comforter, but I should have realized how cold the house was as Gracie was leaning on me on one side and Fern was leaning on the other. The house is now 68˚ so I have turned off the heat. It is supposed to get warmer starting today.

Columbus Day was really yesterday. I used to get it off from school every year unless it happened to be a Sunday. Back then holidays stayed put.

Kids grow up believing in all sorts of stuff. I believed in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I knew there were ghosts and witches and men with hooks instead of hands. Tinker Bell was real because she used to fly over the field below my house with her light blinking as she flew. Most times she was with a bunch of friends. I was easily amazed by the world around me. I loved watching the yellow and black caterpillars walk on a tree limb, and I knew they’d be butterflies some day. I watched the progression of tadpoles into frogs at the swamp. I got to go behind the scenes at the zoo because my brother and I befriended a zoo keeper. I fed some of the animals, even the elephant. I never tired of watching the cows at the dairy farm or the horses running in the field near my house. Life was filled to the brim with adventure and wonder.

When I got older, a teenager, my friends and I had the best fun. We celebrated Mardi Gras, sneaked food upstairs into the library, left school early with permission from the addled nun who taught the class, bowled, played miniature golf, went to the drive-in and had hay rides in the fall. We even went square dancing once. They were all adults but they decided to let us stay. It was so much fun to learn to do-si-do. The world wasn’t as filled with wonder, but I was having too much fun to notice.

College was so many things. It was great friends, a lot of partying and classes here and there. I loved college, but it too lacked that sense of wonder I had as a kid. I’d figured the older we all got, the fewer wonders there were to see. I can’t believe how wrong I was.

I know it was Africa where I found my lost sense of wonder. The people, the colors, the languages, the markets, the night sky were all amazing. Everywhere I went I saw something new, something remarkable. I learned again to look at the world with wide eyes.

I am still filled with that sense of wonder. It’s like a huge gift which never stops giving. I notice everything and stop sometimes along the road to get an eyeful, to fill my soul with all the beauty I can see. Sometimes it is as simple as a marsh with tall reeds or geese flying in formation. It is so wonderful having that kid back!

“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”

May 6, 2014

I have been waking up early the last few days or at least early for me. I think the sunshine makes me not want to waste any daylight. The dog, cat and I don’t get up right away but stay in bed, them sleeping, me reading. My book is just about finished, and I hated leaving it this morning but thoughts of coffee and the papers were enough to roust me from bed. It was a noisy morning. From my bedroom window I could hear the sounds of the early day. Somewhere a lawn was being mowed and I could hear the kids waiting for their bus. Two neighbors, their combined seven kids and one dog are not quiet. The little kids’ bikes rumble up and down the neighbor’s drive-way. She’s not there. The dog barks if a car drives by him. The bus arrives about ten to nine, two of the kids get on, everyone waves to them, the bus leaves and the bikes head on down the street: a couple of Big Wheels and two bikes with training wheels. This afternoon they’ll do it all again for the return trip of the school bus.

I grew up in a golden age. We walked to school and all over town. We played in unfenced yards or went to the playground down the street. It was an innocent age where the only bad guy was a Russian with his atomic bombs, but duck and cover was more of a game to us than a strategy. We played cowboys and Indians. We had heroes like Superman. I don’t think my parents ever locked the front door. The world was never scary except maybe for the guy with the hook. We watched westerns on TV. They always had a good guy and a bad guy, and it was easy to tell them apart. In school, each class had 35 or more kids in it, but the nuns ruled with iron hands. Not one of us dared cross them or we’d get killed at home. The worst thing we ever did was whisper or pass a note. On Saturday nights the whole family went to the drive-in and on summer Sundays the beach. The car was cramped and there was no air-conditioning, but we all survived though with some complaining and pushing and screaming about territorial rights. The phones had operators who connected us, and ours was a party line. We knew just about everyone in our neighborhood. We also knew they’d tell our parents if we did anything wrong. Summer was pure bliss. Some days we walked to the zoo or the pool. The zoo was free; the pool was a dime. My mother sometimes gave us an extra nickel so we could buy a snack from the stall outside the pool. We’d sit under trees at picnic tables and eat our snack before the long trek home, all the way across town. We never gave much thought to the future. We were kids and the future was the next day or as far away as the weekend.

That was the easiest time in my whole life, and I think of it with great fondness and a whole lot of nostalgia.

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”

February 22, 2014

Usually Gracie is having her morning nap around this time but not today. The weather is beautiful, bright and warm. Gracie has been running in the yard almost since we both woke up. She comes in to look out the front door then goes back outside. She is one smart dog who knows to take advantage of a good thing when she sees it. Like Gracie, it is a day for me to be out somewhere, and I don’t think it matters where. I’ll lower the window and breathe in all the fresh air I can. I want to smell spring in the air.

Last night we had a spectacular rainstorm with thunder and lightning. I was in bed reading when it started. I loved it. Gracie, however, didn’t stir, didn’t even notice. Storms mean nothing to her.

The deck is now almost totally cleared of snow as is the backyard. Plow piles are still on corners but they are smaller and look the worse for the rain and the dirt from the road. I always wonder why the plows put those piles on the corners when right beside the corners might work just as well. If they do it so we can’t see oncoming cars, they succeed masterfully. 

Today is bike riding weather. I would maneuver mine out of the cellar, up the steep stairs, ride down the sacred grass hill and take off down the street. Maybe I’d be lucky and have a dime in my pocket, plenty of money for a couple of candy bars or lots of penny candy. I’d wear a jacket instead of a winter coat and hope not to be noticed by my mother who would demand a warmer coat, hat and mittens. One warm day does not spring make according to the Mother’s Creed to which they all adhered. I would have headed toward the field close to my house to check out the horses or to the farm at the other end of town to see the dairy cows. My town also had a barn behind the town hall where horses were kept. It had and still has a zoo. Next to the zoo was a barn filled with stalls and MDC police horses. I’d ride most of the day. There was so much to see. Finally I’d get hungry and cold and ready to go home. The bike went back into the cellar until the next warm day when I could resume my world travels.