Over the last two weekends I was able to accompany four of my grandchildren to two different West Coast zoos. I know some people believe zoos are morally unacceptable, but I remain unconvinced. Zoos are places that provide education and inspiration that I believe are in the best interests of all of us in the animal kingdom.
The last time I wrote about a trip to the zoo, I described how I essentially dragged my three oldest grandchildren through the park giving more attention to the demands of my schedule than to the children or their experience. I am proud to say I did not repeat my mistake during either of my recent visits.
All the children seemed to have a great time and I know the grandparents enjoyed themselves. My wife’s presence always goes a long way toward curbing my worst impulses and improving my general behavior. My daughter and her husband also made our trip to the San Diego Zoo special. Recent accidents that left two of my sons with fairly serious injuries have reminded me how important, precious, and tenuous our time with our families and friends can be.
I am particularly grateful this year that a small group of city employees have decided to organize our annual picnic despite receiving no financial support from the city budget. Department directors have agreed to pick up the cost of hamburgers, and the rest of the meal will be a potluck. The event is scheduled for Thursday, August 20, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., and there will be an assortment of games and prizes. The only compensation that people who are organizing this event are receiving for their extra effort is the satisfaction of being of service to the rest of us.
My appreciation of zoos and picnics may just be another sign among the many I’ve seen lately that I’m getting older. When I was younger, I was always involved in or looking forward to the next Hare-brained adventure in some remote location with a couple of like-minded friends. I still appreciate a good adventure, but I’ve also learned that the most rewarding times are those we spend building relationships with those around us. I have no near-death experiences planned for this summer, and I find the events I’m most eagerly anticipating are a short camping trip with the older grandchildren; my nephew’s wedding which is attracting relatives from distant places; the birth of my ninth grandchild; and the wedding of an old friend.
I’m also looking forward to the annual city picnic and would like to express my thanks to all those who are investing their time and energy on behalf of their co-workers.