As promised – Emma’s zoo excursion was this past Sunday. As I’ve written before, the zoo holds a particular appeal to Emma, an appeal that, frankly, is often lost on me. Still, I had agreed to go with her and because I had had a couple of days in which to mentally prepare myself, I felt eager and excited in anticipation of our little adventure together.
As predicted Emma wanted to visit the bats first, then made her way outside to watch the polar bear do his perseverative laps. He has been doing the same routine for years. He swims on his back to one side of his enclosure, then braces himself against the wall, pushes himself off and propels himself through the water to the opposite wall, before flipping over, diving down and doing the whole thing over again to the ooohs and ahhhhs of the admiring and curious crowd of humans standing against the thick plate of glass separating them from him. Emma watched silently and then, like Howard Cosell reporting from ringside, (does anyone remember Howard Cosell?) began narrating. “The polar bear is swimming! He is under the water! Uh! Where did he go? There he is! He came back!” After awhile Emma had had enough of the polar bear and off we went to her favorite perch where she likes to sit and watch the various ducks and other aquatic birds. (Truthfully I have no idea what types of birds were swimming around and as I was keeping my eye on Em, couldn’t find any plaque telling me what we were viewing, I’m afraid, “aquatic birds” is the best I can do at the moment.)
“Time to see the penguins!” Emma announced and grabbing my hand she made off for the penguin house. The penguin house has an unfortunate odor. I must hold my breath when we are inside because the smell is one I cannot cope with. But Emma doesn’t seem to notice the smell and loves the penguins. She presses her body and face right up to the glass as she watches them swim and strut about on the artificial land mass.
The puffins were next, a lesser attraction and so relegated to a tiny enclosure. In the past the puffins have been no more than an exit marker, but this time she did something I’ve never seen her do. She went right up to the window and stood perfectly still with her up-stretched arms flat against the pane. A single puffin swam up to her and put his beak to the glass and then idled there, barely moving. It was bizarre and beautiful. I was so excited this photo is horribly out of focus!
Emma and the puffin stayed facing each other for a couple of minutes before Emma was pulling me out the door just in time for the 4:00PM feeding of the sea lions.
I wanted to ask Emma about the puffin. I wanted to know what she thought of him. What was she thinking and feeling as she stood there? What was the experience like for her? But other than to say, “Puffin. I like it.” I could get no more from her. Perhaps there are no words for what she felt standing there face to face with this curious creature who seemed so intent on being as close to her as was physically possible.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Emma’s self portrait!
To read my most recent Huffington Post, click ‘here.’
To read my guest post on Special Needs.com, click ‘here‘