Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Into the Wild

The Thai people inconveniently decided to take a stand (once again) against their government two weeks before our December beach vacation to Phuket. We decided to skip the pleasure of getting stuck in the exotic Bangkok airport and go to Singapore instead. Singapore is wonderfully strange. It's kind of an Asian Orlando--brand spanking new, full of shopping and obsessively manicured.

The butterfly above is from the Singapore Zoo. He alighted on my head in the zoo's outstanding rain forest exhibit. Protected by soaring nets, all sorts of little fauna roamed free inside. We observed mice deer meekly foraging for food, sloths and tree kangaroos slumbering in the tropical growth, fruit bats swooping overhead and lemurs lounging like bored teenagers on electrical boxes. All of these creatures were no more than a foot away from our path. I haven't been this delighted, this lost in wonder, in such a long time.

There were dozens of butterfly species I had never seen before, all floating about in that aimlessly predestined manner of butterflies. This dark and handsome fellow wafted over and perched on my head. I calmly turned my head to look at Lily, Holy Moly, can you believe I have a butterfly on my head? Her brown eyes, the size of rice bowls, seemed appropriately amazed. The butterfly slowly flit, flit, flitted over and landed on her arm.

She shrieked like she had been assaulted by a venomous creature, convulsed wildly, turned tail and ran screaming with arms above her head, cartoon style, completely out of sight...completely out of the exhibit.

I laughed so hard I cried. I laughed so hard my sides hurt. (When was the last time I laughed until my sides hurt? I can't remember.) Family vacations always remind me that kids are truly amazing creatures themselves. They are so much fun to watch outside of their normal environment.

Of course, Claire, the benevolent older sister, commenced ridiculing her younger sister, until not one hour later, Claire freaked out when she saw a tiny spider hanging from my umbrella, near her head. These girls can do weird food. They can travel like pros. They can expertly navigate any city's metro/airport system. Just don't ask them to convene intimately with nature.

Perhaps high rise apartment living and no backyard has cut them off from their truly "wild" side. Perhaps they inherited the willies from a family member (see the post: I Love Not Camping). Who knows? In any case, I am seriously considering packing some Xanax on future zoo forays. I shudder to think of the mental health bills we will have to pay if we fail to preempt another traumatic episode of When Butterflies Attack.


Andrea said...

lol!! You're in the military, therapy is free! We have a few short trips planned this year and I can't wait to see how my girls act out of their element.

Nancy B said...

We also ate breakfast with the orangutangs (sp?)...the girls gave them a wide berth but it was still a cool experience. I'll post a pic of that soon.