Simple Pleasures

When I was a child, one of my favorite outings was a trip to the local zoo.  Sometimes we went as a family, but most often we went with neighborhood friends, all piled into my mother’s car.  The adults would sit in the front seat,  with the other moms holding their babies on their laps, and the rest of us kids would squeeze into the back seat.  If we couldn’t all fit, we’d make the smaller ones sit on the floor.  (This was in the days before seat belts and car seats.)   Once we arrived at the zoo, we’d have a marvelous time running around and seeing all the exotic animals, riding the zoo train, and when our moms weren’t looking, fishing coins out of the fountains to be used at the nearby concession stands.

Later, when I had my own kids, I loved taking them to the zoo as well.  It was fun to watch them enjoy the same things I had loved so much as a child, and to take them for a ride on the very same zoo train.  The zoo has changed and improved in many ways over the years, and thankfully provides a much more natural habitat for its animals these days, but a visit there is still a little trip down memory lane.

Now that my children are grown, I was looking forward to taking my two-year old grandson to the zoo this summer.    Sadly, the zoo had to close temporarily when the pandemic struck and when it did open back up, there were many new restrictions in place.  Reservations were required, masks must be worn, and many attractions remained closed.  I wasn’t sure it was worth the bother, and decided my plans to take my grandson to the zoo were yet another casualty of the Covid virus.

But when my daughter told me she’d made reservations for us to take my grandson to the zoo, I agreed to go.  We came prepared with our masks, a wagon to pull my grandson around in when he was tired of walking, and plenty of cold drinks to keep us hydrated.  While we didn’t have a typical zoo experience,  I can honestly say it was still an enjoyable one.

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We saw plenty of animals, (my grandson liked the elephants the best) and, of course, rode the zoo train just as I had all those years ago.  It was fun to see a two-year old get so excited when he saw his favorite animals and enjoy the train ride so much.  When it was over, I thanked my daughter for taking the initiative to plan the outing, knowing that if she hadn’t, I would have missed out on a very special experience.

And the next time I think that trying to do something I normally enjoy is just too much trouble these days, I’m going to remember that trip to the zoo.  Just because I can’t do many things as I normally would, doesn’t mean I can’t do them at all.  I can still invite friends over, we just sit outside and keep our distance.  I can still enjoy food from my favorite restaurants, I just eat it on their patio or get carry-out.  I may not be able to browse the library, but I can order the books I want and pick them up curbside.

Life is certainly different now, and sometimes it’s hard not to be discouraged.  But I think if we’re willing to be flexible and a little determined, we’ll find that there are still plenty of simple pleasures just waiting to be enjoyed.

86 thoughts on “Simple Pleasures

  1. I am valiantly trying to find the simple pleasures. I’m just tired of the happy police asking me to find the good in it all because maybe 3020 is really the year we all needed….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I know what you mean! I don’t really think this was the year we needed at all. I just think we need to find ways to be happy despite the changes the year has brought. I could have lived my whole life withing enduring a pandemic, and been quite happy, thank you very much!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Change usually brings angst and this is such a huge change of lifestyle that many are struggling to adjust … but as you say that with flexibility and determination we still have many simple pleasures to enjoy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was there, too, Cara! But then as this thing just dragged on, I realized that I didn’t want to wait for it to be over before I started enjoying myself in more normal ways. So now I’m looking for ways to make adjustments and have fun while staying safe.

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  3. I loved the zoo when I was little and have many happy memories going there with my family. We are now members but haven’t gone back recently. Maybe after the kids are back in school (or whatever it s that they are calling it 🙂 ).

    We are slowly doing more and more too. We are very safe, but we also realize that you can be safe and still enjoy simple pleasures.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m learning that too, Janis! I don’t want to stay locked in my house forever, which means finding ways to go about my life in relative safety. The warm weather has helped. I’m dreading the cold winter months when socializing outside is no longer an option!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ann, you hit on an item buried in my childhood memories. The zoo train! Lived that train at the Dallas Zoo. I haven’t been in many moons. I hope it’s still there for the kids. As to all the new restrictions, I think we can take an old phrase and bend it a bit to use in our pandemic. “Brighten the corner where you are.”. It’s like, no matter what the weather is like, you can always let the sun into your life. So, we may have been backed into a corner we didn’t want to be in, but we can still brighten it. Your grandson might have this memory with you and write about it when he’s in his 60’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you should go check it out, Alan! I loved that train as a kid, and honestly, it’s still fun now. I was worried it wouldn’t be running, but they simply installed plexiglass barriers between all the seats, and we sanitized our hands before and after boarding the train. And I love that saying, “brighten the corner where you are!” Thanks for sharing that.

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  5. Ann, I don’t think the rest of the country knows how great the St Louis Zoo really is. Free admission, lots of volunteers, amazing landscaping, the exhibits are amazing, the animals don’t seem unhappy, and if you still drink beer, they sell it there also. In my experience, limited as it is, it is a terrific zoo.

    I have taken my g-daughter there many times, pre-pandemic. We have not been back yet and I am really looking forward to it. I will look for you there. We can bump elbows.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely take her! Some of the exhibits are closed, but most are open, and all you have to do is make a reservation ahead of time. We made ours at nine, when it first opened, so it would be even less crowded. But they have gone to great lengths to make it a safe experience. And it’s still free (although parking is expensive) and they still sell beer. If I see you there, we will bump elbows for sure!

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  6. Oh, absolutely Ann! Things are different but it doesn’t mean they can’t be just as good. It’s the way we look at it! I’m glad you got to go to the zoo and make a few new memories. That’s what life’s all about! Stay well. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s absolutely horrible, both from a health perspective and from an economic one. Believe me, I know that. I’m just saying that while we are enduring it, we may as well make the best of it and live life as fully as we safely can. Personally, I wish there would have a vaccine tomorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A friend and I went out to a ‘new’ state park on Sunday — one we’d never visited. It was great fun, and it was especially nice to see all the families out and about, hiking and bicycling. Some wore masks and some didn’t — reasonable enough in an outdoor environment — and nearly everyone was chatting with those they passed on the paths. It was as close to a ‘normal’ day as could be, and greatly refreshing. Like your day at the zoo, it was a day filled with simple pleasures — and it was as obvious as could be that everyone was just happy to be there!

    It sounds like you found a good deal of refreshment, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! The main parts of the zoo were still open, with minor adjustments. Some of the exhibits that were more interactive were closed, for obvious reasons. But we still enjoyed our day very much. And I was impressed the way they handled the train: they installed plexi-glass barriers between each of the train seats. How smart was that?

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  8. Human spirit is capable of rising like a phoenix from the ashes. Sadly, the same human consciousness is capable of unbridled fiendishness. When I think of diabolical forces that let loose the Danse Macabre of terrorism, through mind numbing violence and untameable viruses, I wonder if humanity is already splitting into two species as prophesied by H. G. Wells in The Time Machine.

    That was a wonderful thing your daughter did; it not only let you visit the zoo with your grandson, but sent you reminiscing down the memory lane too. In turn, I was reminded of my own childhood, and I am sure it would have had the same effect on your other readers. As the little town I grew up in didn’t have a zoo, we used to play the part by pretending we were wild animals in a zoo. No surprises the lion’s was the most sought after role, and one time when the role went to some other chap I became a rogue lion even though I was supposed to be a bear!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean about the two extremes of human nature…both the good and bad are impressive, but in very different ways. Our only hope is that the good will always outweigh the bad in the end. Because we all know there are times when that doesn’t happen.
      I was so glad my daughter took the in initiative to plan the zoo trip! It was a wonderful outing for so many reasons. And I understand completely why you wanted to be the lion so badly, and even when you weren’t officially assigned that role! Don’t blame you one bit!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I am so glad you went. It’s hard.. I have never been a book-er or reserve-er of anything and had decided not to adapt but to wait. I may have to wait (til winter!) for the ocean — but as for a lake, church, library — I’ll adapt because waiting is much harder and only wastes life!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know! I hate making reservations for every single thing, but that’s how we live these days. And the problem with advance reservations to the zoo is you never know what the weather will be, as trooping around the zoo in 98 degree weather with high humidity is anything but fun. We were lucky that it wasn’t too hot the day we were supposed to go, and our reservation was for right when the zoo opened. By the time the temps climbed, we were done and heading home for lunch!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s so important for all of us to acknowledge that although life is different now, we can not give up on the simple pleasures of life. I am so glad you did so! This sounds like a really fun trip to the zoo! I’d love to go one one soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! That’s exactly the point I was trying to make. We can’t wait for the pandemic to be over in order to live our lives, because we have no idea when that will be. So we just need to be safe and creative, and do the best we can. I hope you do get to visit a zoo soon….it’s a great lift for the spirits!

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  11. Ann, this post for me was like the morning sun coming through the trees, it sure made my heart smile. I love traditions and all that is beautiful about the yesteryears. Your zoo trips as a child sound so wholesome and fun. To be able to share and enjoy them with lil ones but as a parent, and then as a grandparent – how lovely is that?!

    This new way of living isn’t easy. But you’re a true survivor, Ann, to adapt and to adjust your windows just so, so that the sun continues to stream its healing warmth into your life and into the lives of your loved ones.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much!! And that’s exactly what made it so special….visits to the zoo are a family tradition, and my grandson is the third generation to enjoy it! I couldn’t believe we were even riding in the same little train. I agree that this new way of living is very challenging, and sometimes downright discouraging. But I take heart in knowing it won’t last forever, and that there are still many ways to enjoy ourselves and our loved ones even now. I like your metaphor of adjusting the windows so that the sun streams in! I’m going to treasure that image.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Sound like a lovely trip to the zoo, I love animals and be around them. My family and I went to a farm and it was so nice to feed the animals and my kids enjoyed being there. We had to keep our distance from others, and the time was limited and booked in advance too, but still very fun experience.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not surprised! We are zoo members, so we were able to make a reservation in the week before it officially opened, which probably helped. Of course, I didn’t realize that when my daughter told me when we were going, so that when I read in the paper that the zoo wasn’t opening until after we were supposed to visit, I was quite sure that my daughter had made a terrible mistake with the dates!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Going to the zoo wouldn’t have been my first choice either, but your daughter had the right idea. Watching a toddler’s reactions to the animals makes the zoo so much more fun! Glad you enjoyed your time with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really did, Des! He was so excited to see the elephants and the apes (which came rather close) and especially to ride the train. It was worth the trip for sure! Spending time with young ones is the perfect remedy for the “pandemic blahs!”

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I similarly have wonderful memories of zoo trips with my family growing up. I agree that it’s important to find ways to do things special even during these very strange times. Have a great weekend.

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  15. I chuckled at reading about your experience in the car with moms & kids. I have similar memories of traveling to a cottage which was owned by a friend of my mom. Every year, a bunch of us piled into the car ( it felt like about 15 of us) & headed to that cottage for a few days. I am sure it was utter chaos for the moms but boy we had fun!

    It is challenging adjusting to our new normal these days but we are a resilient lot and I do think it’s important to try to find safe ways of introducing some activities back in to our lives. Sounds like you had a great day!💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, those were different times, weren’t they? I didn’t put it in the post, but sometimes there were so many of us in the backseat that our moms told us to sit “every other one on the front of the seat and on the back of the seat” in order to fit us all in! Can you imagine a parent telling a child that now?
      And yes, we can’t just wait until this is over to life our lives. We just have to make adjustments so that we can do it as safely as possible. Thank goodness for technology as it does help us cope!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. You are so right Ann! We can still enjoy our lives…we just need to be a bit more creative and wear a mask of course when we are in public and close to others. We still need our friends and family and we need to find ways to stay in touch. Thank you for this post!!!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Linda! It is so important that we stay in touch and do as many of our normal activities as we safely can, I think. From what I’ve seen, the people who do that are having an easier time coping than those who haven’t set foot outside of their house since this began. It’s just going on too long to be that extreme, I think. Creativity and flexibility are the keys! (And patience, of course….)

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  17. That’s one thing I’ve noticed with safety measures: slows me down, lets me notice those small treasures, instead of wildly rushing through to get to the next thing.
    There’s a blessing there.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Like you, since I was a child I’ve enjoyed going to the zoo, and then taking my own children. I have a photo of my 2-year-old running around the monkey cages while I nursed the 1-month-old. I remember feeling how similar I was to those monkeys. ;-0 Then I began to feel guilty about enjoying the zoo because of the movement to free the animals, knowing they are so sad all caged up and unable to ‘be themselves.’ But zoos have “upped” their game and not only have they opened spaces for the animals to make them more comfortable, but zoos now also have added more signs and tags to help educate visitors about each animal and their habitat and habits, etc.
    So yay for you, going to the zoo. I’d like to do that soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I remember as a child that too many of the animals simply lived in cages. The poor elephants actually had chains on their legs when they were inside, and would sway back and forth all day. Now zoos do their best to keep the animals in a more natural habitat (in the penguin and puffin house, the lighting mimics the natural lights of environment, staying on much longer during what would be their summer months), and are also working to preserve the animals that live in the wild. Plus, so many of them are being hunted or driven out of their natural habitats, so that the animals bred in zoos are actually keeping certain species from going extinct. The focus really has shifted from animals as entertainment to preserving as many animals as possible,

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Everywhere opening up here has to be booked in advance too, but we haven’t really got into that yet. Our previous way of doing things was usually just deciding on the day what we wanted to do, so now we tend to go for another walk instead. Which might actually be better for us! I’m sure, like you, we’ll adapt in the end, maybe when a specific exhibition that we want to see is on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the reservation part of it takes advance planning, which can be hard. Like you, I prefer to just wait for a nice day and then venture out! But I’m getting used to this new way of doing things, although I admit I’m also looking forward to the day when we don’t have to do it this way anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Brenda! And I agree that it’s important to care for our mental and emotional health these days. It’s so easy to focus on the pandemic and ignore everything else, but that is no way to live at all. We can stay safe and still enjoy ourselves in many ways, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I love the zoo too. I loved it as a child, parent, and now grandparent. I got a notice recently that they were offering memberships at a reduced rate. I considered whether the virus would be over in a year and wasn’t sure enough to invest my money. I should do like you and your family and take the plunge. You are right. Holding back on fun is not always the best idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hard to take the plunge sometimes, especially with so much uncertainty, but I do think it’s important to do it now and then. The longer this thing drags on, the more we need to do the things that make us happy and help us cope, I think. Thanks for the comment!

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  21. I think flexibility is very important right now. Of course it’s not ideal to have to wear masks and wash hands endlessly, but the joy of having a day out at the zoo makes all the effort worth it. I’m happy for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I think that’s something for me too remember too, Ann – that I don’t have to stop everything completely, just do them in new and different ways. The zoo is wonderful. It’s outside, fresh air, and probably easy to social distance. I used to take my grandson, and all he wanted to do was play in their big sandbox. Lol. I’m glad you had a wonderful day with your daughter and grandson.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hard to remember that in the middle of a pandemic, I think! We just want to stay home where we know we’re safe. But as this drags on, I’ve found that venturing out safely is the best thing for me. It keeps my much more positive, and I think we all need that right now. Thanks for your comment…you got exactly what I meant!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Hi Ann, I was thinking about this same thing recently. Sometimes you just have to try to do something that you used to do, even though you know it’s going to be a little different. We took three day trips to the Jersey shore this summer and, while we had to adjust to what was different because of Covid, they were still totally worth the effort. Also, I remember piling into cars like that. I used to sit on my mother’s lap in the front seat – no seatbelts, of course. We also used to lie on the back “shelf” in the rear window. Ack!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Sometimes we did that too, Barb! Actually, we kind of considered it an honor to be on the back shelf, if our parents would allow it. (And the only reason they didn’t was if we blocked their view!) I’m glad you were able to enjoy your trip to the Jersey shore. The extra effort to do something fun right now is absolutely worth it!

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  25. I’m so happy your daughter took the initiative and that you got to enjoy a lovely day at the zoo together as a family, Ann! As someone who enjoys going to the zoo at least once a month I know how lovely it is to watch animals especially now because they help to distract us for at least a moment from what’s going on in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am too, Sarah! It was such a nice morning with my daughter and grandson, and even more of a welcome distraction as we went just after we learned that my husband had cancer, but before we learned at what stage it was and how treatable it was. So I really needed something to cheer me up! (Thankfully they caught it early and it hasn’t spread, so his prognosis is good.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s cancer diagnosis, Ann. That must have been such a shock. And I’m glad they caught it early on and that the prognosis is good – sending you both lots of positive energy and strength! Take care!

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