The St. Louis Zoo is wonderful, and one of the few free zoos, perfect for family outings.  I remember Dad declaring that we needed a play-break after walking around looking at animals.  He’d pick a nice clear, grassy hill, and we would “get our energy out” running up and rolling down that hill.  Mom told me much later that it was also the break for parents to sit on a bench and recharge their own energy.

Mom and Dad were constantly counting to five, checking to be sure we five children were all still together.  Once, after the chimpanzee show (which the zoo no longer has), she only made it to four.  Because of construction in progress, the chimps had exited through the crowd instead of backstage, all in a line, holding hands.  The last in line had a free hand, and there I was, holding hands, heading away to join the chimps ready to play with the motorcycles and other toys they used in the act.  Mom saved me from a show biz career, and my parents kept counting to five.

The zoo now has an insectarium, which, along with the Butterfly House in Faust Park, teaches appreciation of those small but plentiful occupants of our planet.  I remember the day Robin conquered her fear of butterflies and was delighted to have one persistently land on her sleeve, and this poem, for my mom.


The Butterfly House  by Mary Garrett

In January my mother wanted to see the Butterfly House.

My first thought was to plan it for spring break,

But life is always uncertain.  We had mild weather for January,

And school ends blissfully early on exam days.


We rushed to get together all the necessities for an outing,

Medicines, oxygen, personal items.

I phoned for directions, and we set out,

Not actually following the most direct route,

But we got there.


Mom looked in dismay at the long path down to the House,

And then smiled brightly

When I pulled the wheelchair from the trunk of my little Tercel.

“I didn’t know you brought the chair!” she exclaimed.

Had she thought I would have her walk that long way?


Inside, warm summer met us in the middle of winter.

Flying jewels danced through the air,

And a room of chrysalises waited to emerge.

One very special blue giant perched on my mother’s knee,

Completely capturing her heart.


The visit was over too soon,

Closing time found us reluctant to leave.

In spring or summer we can come and stay longer,

But I’m glad we didn’t wait — Carpe diem!


Hawk   by Mary Garrett

The baby hawk was trapped in a courtyard,

No food to eat,

No mother to care for him.

He would have starved.

The bird lovers found him,

Took him to the one who knew hawks.

They broke the law to help this bird,

Luckier than the injured owl

That died while the vet waited for permission to treat it.

Fed to full strength, gorged to satiation,

Baby hawk was brought back to his home field.

Startled, he fled toward traffic and danger.

His new friend gently urged him toward grass.

A sound from above warned them away;

Mother hawk perched high above,

Watching her baby, ready to fly to his defense.

He could now be safely left

Where his mother would feed and guard him.


This has been a fun April.  I will continue to post, not quite as often, with more of my dad’s stories along with my own musings . . .

Thanks for sharing the fun!