Falling in Love at the Zoo
He spotted me eating lunch on the patio. Eying me thoughtfully, he moved in, ducking beneath the fence and mincing across the flagstones, his long, brilliant train sweeping behind him.
"Oh!" I said intelligently, dribbling ketchup down my shirtfront, because on Planet Mundane where I come from, gorgeous guys don't usually cross my path.
Like most handsome males, he knew he was hot. Keeping one eye cocked toward me as I fumbled for my camera, he wove between the lunch tables, refusing to wait long enough for me to line up my shot and leaving me with only a snap of his draggling tail.
But we were destined to meet again. More about that in a minute.
I was playing hooky from my job and spending the day at the small but beautifully-designed Northeast Wisconsin Zoo in Green Bay. It was the first time I'd gone to a zoo by myself. Everyone else had small children in tow, but my kids are long past the age where they want to hang around with their mom. On other occasions when I've been at the zoo it's been as shepherd to a flock of elementary students, constantly on guard to ensure that no one crawls into the bear enclosure or teases the monkeys or freaks out in the snake house. Then there's the every-five-minutes head counts, the scramble to make sure everyone gets their sack lunch, and the bathroom parade before herding the crew onto the bus.You Scout troop leaders and teachers know what I'm talking about. You never have time to enjoy the creatures because you're focused on your little critters.
So it was with a wonderful sense of freedom that I wandered around the zoo yesterday, taking time to leisurely read the information placards and eating ice cream and getting sunburned because I'd forgotten to slather on sun screen. I watched kids feeding the giraffes, squealing in excitement as they felt the long, rough giraffe tongues licking their hands as they nibbled the giraffe crackers. It was the first time I'd seen a giraffe that close and I could see every detail of its face. Magical. Those eyelashes! A goat in the petting zoo kissed my neck (not my animal magnetism--she was after dribbled ice cream). I pressed my nose up against the glass of the tamarin enclosure, oohing and ahhing over the tiny, exquisite newborn tamarin, wishing I could cuddle it. (The photo below,sadly, is not my own--my smart phone photos wouldn't download)
Just as I was heading toward the lion enclosure, the peacock--whom I'd nicknamed Napoleon-- crossed my path again. He stopped. I stopped. We stared at each other.
Then Napoleon unfolded his tail. Stunning! I'd never seen a full peacock tail display in real life, a five-foot-wide fan of shimmering sapphires, glittering golds, and vibrant emeralds, each individual feather jeweled with an iridescent eyeball.
If I'd been a peahen I would have married the guy on the spot. Napoleon preened and strutted and wove from side to side to better display his gorgeousness, and even did a 360 to prove that he looked good from all angles.
And then--this just shows how fickle guys are--Napoleon spotted two little girls on the path and hurried over to show off for them.
One of the zoo employees told me that Napoleon and the other peacocks are allowed to wander at will around the grounds during the day because the birds become stressed if they're kept in pens. Peacocks are much happier and healthier wandering around the grounds, and seem to thrive on the attention--well, that seems a sensible way for all living beings to be treated, doesn't it?
Farewell, Napoleon! Live long, prosper, and may your offspring inherit your magnificent eyes.
Before I left, I bought a peacock feather in the gift shop.
Today's blog has been brought to you by Tangled Thing Called Love, the third book in the Mazie Maguire series, which was just came out this month. Thanks to all the readers who have "liked" the book and taken the time to write reviews.