When friends ask me what we’ve been up to, I am never really sure how to answer. We have full lives, but we aren’t very flashy or exciting. We have very few really “spare” moments, and our only true intention is aimed towards being present to whatever occurs around us.
For weeks, enthusiasts eagerly anticipated the blooming of Li’l Stinker at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. The collection includes 44 corpse flowers, but this 15-year old specimen failed to flower, despite all previous signals that this was THE year.
A sibling of Li’l Stinker, simply named Stink, unexpectedly bloomed. And yes, it reeks!
In its natural environment (Indonesia’s Sumatra island rain forest) the plant attracts dung beetles, sweat bees and flesh flies with its scent–decomposition! When the insects crawl into the flower they’re covered in pollen, and finding no meat, they move on spreading the pollen in their wake.
The Huntington houses 44 of these mature, blooming size plants, and they’ve been one of the more popular attractions in year’s past, gaining worldwide attention through their social media presence.
Nature is efficient. And fascinating!
But there were some disappointments, too.
This summer our 7-year old rabbit, Pinky, died, leaving two broken-hearted girls in tears and dread. “I don’t want any more pets! I don’t want them to die. What about Zena?” I let mom handle the questions.
Although Pinky was extremely well cared for and even provided her own do-it-yourself air conditioning of frozen water bottles placed in the cage, I think she was heat-stressed. I hope it was just “her time.” She is missed. Even Zena eventually made peace with her position in the family.
The following week we traveled with Sophia and Karina to Oakland for one last “hurrah” before school started.
This is where the Grizzly experience comes in.
With their aunt and uncle and baby cousin we planned a trip to the Oakland Zoo and the new California Trail exhibit.
The 56-acre California Trail is accessed by a very exciting gondola ride providing a fabulous view of the San Francisco Bay area. The exhibit acreage features expansive new habitats, among the largest in the world, with homes to native California animal species selected for their historical significance to the state.
So what happened next?
We didn’t know why the Grizzlies were in with the other bears and not in their own well-publicized habitat. We watched them in interest for a time and then moved on.
Suddenly, from a higher view we watched the Grizzlies running into their area.
Boy can they run!
We “hot-footed” it down to watch and suddenly, Sophia SHRIEKED!
It took my brain a moment to catch up!
They were galloping alright! Right to their dinner. And dinner was rabbit!
We are city slickers, you know! Although we may know there isn’t a “Purina Grizzly Chow,” well, I don’t typically think about it!
Sophia took off in another direction with Papa, while I stayed near to see how Karina was handling this.
Her response was typical Karina. Very matter-of-fact, but she’d revised what she saw into a more acceptable version.
Her eyes were wide and her vision riveted as she said in a calm and level voice, “Nan, I don’t think that was a real rabbit. I think those are just for play. See? They’re in the water getting fish. I think they’re just eating fish.”
Nature is indeed fascinating. And this is an excellent teaching environment, however, not all information is easy for children–or their senior citizen grandmother.
This really wonderful video shares how some of the bears were brought from Alaska to Oakland, and why. It’s not long and I think you’d enjoy it.
I need a little rest. Then I wonder what we’ll do next?