Thursday, April 25, 2013

Winter of my discontent

Tuesday morning we woke to this:
See that stuff on the road? That's ice. Ice. In April. Snow I can do, but ice? Come on.
Third Tuesday in row, besides. Soccer was cancelled. Baseball was cancelled. All activities celebrating the great outdoors were shut down, possibly forever, because how exactly are we going to do swim season, or camping season, or anything season, with a blizzard every Tuesday? Helen's soccer team hasn't had a practice in over a month (games, though. They've had those. All I will say  is that apparently the other teams are finding space to practice.)

It's had an effect on my mood.
Technically the shores of Duluth, but it could be my heart.
 Not helping is my annual freak out about summer. This year, oddly, has mostly been better: perhaps I have come to accept certain truths, such as that my platonic ideal of summer - a blend of a few childhood experiences, the farm from Charlotte's Web, and various other cultural suitcases that I have not had time to unpack - does not actually exist in the universe as we know it. Also that staying home with my children all day every day would be an unmitigated disaster, one that would have to begin with quitting my job. Therefore: I'm signing the kids up for a blend of camps, sports and babysitters, with a goal of minimizing drive time and camp time, and I'm fine with that. Mostly. We did run into one stumbling block: when I went to sign Helen up for swim team, the team she was on last year, the one with all her friends, was full. I briefly lost my will to live. Just to put in context, this was three days after the bombing in Boston killed three and shattered lives and limbs. So I pulled myself together and decided I had just lost the will to live here, in this competitive, crowded, rat race of a suburb where everything is a fight and a struggle and I'm always having to hustle and bark.

Then I signed Helen up for a different swim team and moved on.

Meanwhile, we are going about our days. It's supposed to be seventy-five this Saturday: that's a good thing. Not all of the tulips and daffodils got snapped in the superfreeze we had at the beginning of April ( 6 degrees. It got down to 6 degrees Fahrenheit), so that's also something. (The lilacs, though, are toast, and one looks as though it might be permanent toast.) Helen and I went for a run slash bike ride yesterday after work; it was warm, or warmish, so long as we kept moving. We saw kingfishers and muskrat and sparrows and turtles and talked about returning to the ponds in the summer with a friend. I found a program for Silas for next year where he can serve as a volunteer in the local parks & rec offices: perfect, I'm thinking, because what he needs more than anything right now is a job. I mean, he'll have to wait until next year, but still. Just knowing that is out there eases my mind.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Feeding the giraffes


and we went to Colorado Springs. For about four hours. A staycation in miniature. Or a "My parents both work so all I got for spring break was this measly trip to a zoo in another city" T shirt.

Truth be told, though, it was kind of dreamy. Colorado Springs is only an hour away, but it has a totally different feel. Very Spanish, very Old-New-Mexico. M. had to work, so the kids and I took a little trip by ourselves. We went to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, which is, in fact, just another zoo - and I am ambivalent about zoos - and yet it is a smaller and much more personal-feeling zoo than the Big City Denver Zoo. For one thing, they have pony rides:

Helen waited 30 minutes for the chance to ride a horse. I need to find her some riding lessons.
For another thing, they have a giraffe feeding station. This is the kind of thing that seems both cheesy and probably exploitative and yet is undeniably amazing when you're actually there in the sun with your hands full of lettuce. I am a fierce believer in the importance of keeping wild things wild and respecting their wildness, and lord knows that every animal on the planet, or most of them, would be vastly better off if we just disappeared - and yet we humans have this craving to be close to animals that bears listening to.

This photo does not do justice to the tongue of the giraffe, which is a thing of glory.
Helen was beyond thrilled to be this close to the giraffes.
Even if she needed a little help from an exasperated older brother to bring herself to feed them.
The rest of the zoo was filled with touches like this. The lizard house felt like an actual house, with lizards in aquariums on shelves, in large decorative hurricane lamps, in cages with concrete sofas and chairs, in cages with bright blue swimming pools in them. The grizzly bear pen was huge. The elephant pen was huge and better than the brand new Denver Zoo elephant pen (at least to someone who doesn't know anything about zoos). They had lots of porcupines, and naked mole rats, and stairs. It was very pleasant, and it also had spectacular views out east over the city. I asked the kids to pose for a picture celebrating our day of family togetherness:

Just plucked off the orphan train, awaiting a new grim life as indentured servants.

The next day we went to the Mammoth & Mastodon exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, which, despite Si's tearful predictions of mind-numbing boredom (he was not referring to this particular exhibit but museums in general, as opposed to zoos, or, you know, Elitches), was actually quite spectacular (life size realistic models of a wooly mammoth, a giant bear, and a saber-toothed tiger, to start).

And then, baseball. Tournament season has begun.