Katie adores her Uncle Chet, one of Bill’s brothers. Chet is the second oldest of four boys (Bill is the first), and he is married to Irma. With Bill on Spring Break and our niece Carly visiting her parents this week, too, we were eager to see all three of them. We had thought about dinner sometime soon, but after remembering that Safari Park has set up its seasonal Butterfly Jungle for the next two weeks, we decided to spend a day enjoying all the animals together.

Chet is an experienced birder (birdsman?) and also extremely knowledgable with respect to butterflies as well. In fact, part of his job is to study native habitats of local birds and animals and to assess the influence of changes to their environments. It is fun to hear him identify the life that was all around us today. What a gift, to be able to discern the small details so quickly as those details flutter by. I think it takes an artistic and attentive kind of eye to see such beautiful nuance in the world around us.

Katie wanted to visit the gorillas first thing. Eric, too, kept pointing at them and saying “More! More!”

Eric at the gorilla viewing area

Aunt Irma disguised as a fruit bat

The bats seemed to be a new attraction; at least, I had not seen them there before this trip. We were lucky to see one of the bats spread its wings fully. At Irma’s and Carly’s suggestion in the bookstore later, I bought the children’s book “Stellaluna” for the kiddos. Eric and Katie loved reading this story (about a fruit bat making unlikely friends) tonight before bed.

Walking around the park

The kiddos found a playground after lunch; again, we had not really wandered by this too many times before today. Eric loved the jeep, and both kiddos LOVED the twisty tunnel slide. “More! More!”

Eric and his daddy watch elephants. Eric really connected with the elephants, and we had tremendous views of them—including a new baby—this afternoon. Right away, Eric understood: “Baby,” he said and pointed to the little guy. Then, pointing to the large elephant nearby, he explained, “Mama.” I loved it! He knows that special baby and mama relationship when he sees it. So sweet.

There is a big elephant in the background…

Irma, Chet, Katie, and I (from the back, holding Eric) look for butterflies in the Butterfly Jungle.

Eric finds butterflies.

A butterfly landed on Uncle Chet!

And one landed on Aunt Irma’s hat, too!

Looking for more butterflies

Katie and Aunt Irma and Carly exit the Butterfly Jungle

Cousin Carly!

Sharing one of Uncle Chet’s cookies

Safari tram ride with Uncle Chet

Eric sat next to Carly on the tram ride

Watching the meerkats, always a favorite for the kiddos.

Eric had the time of his life today in the petting kraal, with all of the goats. Oh my. As many people know, I love, love, love goats—one of my very favorite animals. It is my dream to have my own goat someday. I love them. Apparently, this is a genetic disposition I’ve passed on to my son. He visited and pet nearly every goat in the kraal and gave real pucker-up kisses to several of them (on their sides). Then he found some brushes, took it in his own mind to use them, and groomed his new friends. He waved to one that was sleeping and said, “Night!” But the real indication that he has goat love? One of the goats decided to lick and gnaw at one of the logs comprising its fence—so Eric went up to one of the fence logs and did the same thing. When he pulled away, we could see his wet little tongue mark… (Maybe some of that nice goat kraal bacteria will turn him into a goat)?

What a beautiful day! After the bookstore, Katie and I rode the carousel just before we left. We’ve always wanted to do that…. Katie chose to ride the hummingbird.

We loved this day with our family, and it was lovely because there was such a natural harmony in wandering about together. Great memories, and that’s what life is about, yes?

Love you guys, Chet, Irma, and Carly!

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