Monday, March 07, 2016

Taking refuge with anteaters and cellists (but not both at once)

The anteater in the rain forest at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo looks like a little like an oversized raccoon that's been run through a wringer washer and placed on stilts--in other words, not like a raccoon at all. It moves like a mechanical wind-up toy, snuffling its muzzle along the ground in front and dragging a big brushy tail behind. 

We couldn't get enough of the anteater today, or of the porcupine or tamarins or turtles. My granddaughter sat on one side of a thick pane of glass counting the sharp pointy teeth of a gharial floating in water on the other side, a scene that would be far less soothing if the glass were absent. 

The rain forest was hot and steamy and full of exotic animal smells and sounds, a welcome refuge from the chilly wind outside. Yesterday, though, we heard brilliant birdcalls in a far more civilized location: inside an elaborate Lutheran church, where my daughter's choir sang "Little Birds" by Eric Whitacre, a song requiring the whistling of birdcalls. The excellent acoustics magnified those high-pitched calls so that if you closed your eyes, you might think you were in a tropical rainforest, despite the absence of anteaters and the presence of a cellist playing pizzicato.

In what context might anteaters and cellists coexist? Wherever it is, I want to be there, with or without pizzicato.


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