Since things have a way of keep on keeping on, I’ll share with you some good times we had at the zoo a few months back.
You guys, Texas is hot. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but it’s really hot. It’s the kind of hot that makes me never want to leave the house. But one weekend, the husband & I heard it’d be a bit cooler that normal (a tiny bit less than “sweltering”) and left the house early to take Myla to the Austin Zoo. I like the Austin Zoo because it’s a rescue center, and it’s so small that you can get pretty close and personal with the animals there.
Ages ago, I suggested to Myla that we bring our sketchbooks on a zoo trip. We did, and we had a great time. She remembered that this time, and asked me could we please please bring our sketchbooks again? And, since I really really love when she asks me for easy things, I said yes, of course we could.
We made a bit of a game of sitting and stopping and drawing the animals. The giant tortoise was out & about, most likely wondering if we had any more lettuce, but also just as likely looking at us thinking, “what are they DOING?”
We sat and drew a bear cub rolling around with some chickens and a duck. And although she was a little annoyed that they wouldn’t hold still (“Hey duck! Stop moving around!”), she used her imagination to draw them for the most part, anyway…
The tiger was out, totally passing up her pile of meat to come over and check us out…and then sauntered over to a shady area for a nap.
Myla drew the “three little bears,” as we watched the bear cubs getting fed, and playing hide and seek for their veggies. Myla continued to “collect” animals in her sketchbook. “OH! a parrot! I haven’t gotten a parrot yet!”
Most times, collecting the animal wasn’t as important as using it to create something else. When we found the serval, she gave it spikes and a dragon tail…because: REALITY.
It didn’t really matter WHAT the drawings looked like. In fact, everything I drew ended up as just a little strip of a tiger stripe, or a rough doodle of the turtle’s eye. What I really enjoyed was watching HER excitement, and seeing things through her eyes. “WOW, mom! That pig is so big and cool and guhSKUSTING!”
And we also took time to put the sketchbooks down a bit and look around at all the beautiful things, and enjoy just being together.
But hey–you’ve got to find smiles in the little things! Those little things are truly what leave the biggest memories.
And it doesn’t have to be the zoo–It can be a walk down the street, kicking rocks and catching grasshoppers. It can be the crunch of leaves with each step on a walk through the forest. It can be in your backyard, drawing daisies, or splashing paint on paper.
You can try it right now! You can try it when the kids get home from school. You can try it alone, or with a friend.
Enjoy the little things, and be glad that they’re there…
Or: “Why We Have a Dead Horse Taped To Our Window”
Here’s a quick little story:
Recently, we watched a show on PBS called “Animal Odd Couples,” about unusual animal friendships, which Myla loved. She especially loved the story of Charlie the horse and Jack the goat.
Charlie was a 40-year-old farm horse who was blind in one eye, and very near to being put down when the family noticed that their 16-year old goat, Jack, had begun walking with Charlie around the farm, standing on his good side to lead him, making sure he got where he needed to go. As the horse got older and blind in both eyes, the goat began leading him in front so he could follow his sound.
The show is very sweet, and you can watch the story of Charlie and Jack here:
Later in the story, they talk about how Charlie passed away. In tribute, Myla grabbed a paper plate and asked me if she could draw Charlie after he died (she has learned to ask about potentially inappropriate images after some “artistic mishaps” at school), and I said it would be okay.
I don’t think she meant it in a morbid way; to her mind, it was more of a tribute. The “x” eyes and the tongue sticking out are merely a way of telling you visually that the sweet horse that was part of this amazing story died. She wanted people to know about Charlie and Jack. She asked me if I’d write the story around it, and I took dictation on the words she wanted me to write. She asked if we could get a big stick and put it in the front yard so that everyone could see the story, but (thankfully) I convinced her that the weather might be an issue, and we compromised by taping it to the window in our kitchen nook.
So, we have a drawing of a dead horse on our window. But it’s sort of…sweet, actually?
And that’s the story of Charlie and Jack, and how Myla loved them.