Sunday, February 28, 2010

Freedom and Captivity

During the week I spent with my grandson I had opportunities to think of freedom and captivity. We all went to the Miami Metropolitan Zoo, the best I've seen, with enormous open spaces. None of the animals were crowded. This elephant must have once performed in a circus. Why else would it sway back and forth in what seemed like a dance and look to us for applause? Then it was free to roam and ignore us, which it did.

These long-necked creatures--I wish I had noted their name--ate from a tree, cooperating at the 'table.'

Our grandson, along with other children, fed giraffes that took the offered greens with tongues more than a foot long. They frisked and galloped, and nursed their young.

Birds flew under very high nets; ducks paddled. None seemed depressed except the animals we are most closely related to: chimpanzees. It was a drizzly day. They slumped in the drizzle, depressed and potentially furious. Their brooding torpor shocked me, and I did not reach for my camera. These were not like the charming "Cheetah" of the Tarzan films that entranced me when I was a child. These were big and powerful. A pair listlessly groomed each other. One sat with his back against the rocks, his belly sagging. One walked a bit and sat down. A sluggish group. They looked miserable, in prison for life. (How can anyone believe that imprisonment is a soft punishment for us?) Humans, like chimpanzees, do not take well to captivity.

A few days later on my way to meet my family, I saw this cat pacing back and forth on a window sill: restless, glossy, alert. From time to time the cat would stop and rub against window frame. At the risk of being late I stayed to watch and imagined a could hear the cat's purr vibrate through the glass.

I finally hurried away and met my family at a restaurant at South Pointe. Our grandson was utterly surprised when his favorite dessert of apple pie and ice cream arrived with a flaming candle and the entire room full of people sang Happy Birthday.

We need lovely surprises!

This morning I had a coffee at my favorite cafe here in South Beach, Cafe a la Folie. To do anything--it's usually to love--a la folie, is to do it madly.

Wishing you all frisky days!


  1. I zoomed in on the gazelles. I have to call them the graces. The composition is one so familiar -- a ring of female dancers hands joined -- such elegant forms and the amazing blue light in their eyes. Les Desmoiselles d'Avignon comes to mind along with so many ancient and magical images.

  2. Bluedog, what a surprising connection to the Graces and Les Desmoiselles. It's also surprising how many of the zoo animals seem to thrive while the chimpanzees sink and wither, but I may have seen them on a bad day.

  3. The imprisonment of animals is such a vexed issue, Mim. I'm not sure how i feel about it.
    The only comfort is that conditions seem to have improved since when I was a child.

    I can still see the polar bears in a concrete bunker with a small sluice of water on one side. It seemed barbaric even then to me a child.

    Thanks for the photos. Your grandson looks to have had a lovely time on his birthday. At least he's not imprisoned.

  4. Conditions have improved, Elizabeth, especially at the Miami zoo. Some people believe that zoos now protect animals and keep the endangered ones safe.

  5. a poetic composed mixture of situations, again.
    the echo of your experiences reach following situations, and I like the way you let things grow, inside and together.
    the picture of the apple pie and your grandson touches me...

  6. I think there is a thread to experience but don't know whether I'm making it or the thread is leading me.

    Smilla: we had a tender week with our family.

  7. Isn't it impressive what the company of young people do with ones mind - wishing you all a wonderful start into the month and week as well.

  8. this was an especially wonderful post, mim...and that grandson....yum!

  9. So much is new to the young. It was refreshing to be with our grandson.

    Thank you.

  10. I propose a toast to la vie a la folie!