Saturday, April 6, 2013

From Sweet Sounds to Self-assured Swans

Before we left our home recently, LC sat down and tore out a couple of pages from her journal; she said she wanted to draw where we were planning to go that day.

She was anticipating the sweet sounds at the Lolli-pops Concert:


What do you see in the picture?


It's a picture of kids sitting in their seats...in front of a stage...with a giant lollipop in view. That's how she imagined it would be...though I didn't see any lollipop decorations on or around the stage once we got to The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College.

We went to a dress rehearsal of the last program of the 6-concert series for the 2012-2013 season. The show was called "The Magical Musical Pencil." The Little Orchestra Society presents the Lolli-pops shows for 3 to 5 year olds. I loved how they introduced the four instrumental groups of the live orchestra (woodwinds, strings, brass and percussion) by having the musicians stand up in each section and then take turns playing their instruments (a rare treat to hear a bassoon solo). Even adults learn a new thing or two at these concerts...I learned what timpani (percussion section) look and sound like. We heard the Pink Panther theme song played on the French horn and Sesame Street music on a trombone (if I am remembering correctly). Great way to connect with the kids before launching into the classical music.

The conductor kept the show moving along nicely...and two costumed characters (Toot the Bird and Buzz the Bee) used gestures to remind kids of the rules, like remaining quiet and listening to the music.

The concept of this particular program was that Peter H. Reynolds, a Children's Book Illustrator and Author, wants to write a new book but he has run out of ideas for the story. Music by Brahms, Bizet, Handel etc. sparks his creativity and he's inspired to finish the drawings and text for the story (shown on a big screen during the show...as Peter waves the huge magical pencil over the pad of paper). The only time LC spoke during the performance was to tell me "it's magic, magic!!!!" After the concert, LC said "the thing I liked was the magical pencil there."

Peter warmed up the audience by making a real drawing, in front of everyone, as the orchestra played "Flight of the Bumblebee"...he interpreted the music to mean a bee flying an airplane, super cute.

So much of children's literature has become incredibly sanitized, so the story they displayed on the screen was about a female bullfighter who wants to help the bull escape.

Before we left home, LC was also excited about a trip to the zoo, so she drew a picture of us looking at a giraffe.


(Giraffes are at the Bronx Zoo and that's not where we were going...it's such a long commute to get to that zoo, though it is a glorious place.)

Since it was a beautiful spring day...we walked over to the Central Park Zoo from Hunter College. You can't go wrong with a trip to the zoo. Except if you don't pay attention to a small sign, behind the animals. "Look out — alpacas can spit." Yes, they can and do! I attempted to offer feed (grain they had available for all the barnyard creatures) to an alpaca that just ate a bunch of grass hay. It didn't finish chewing what was in its mouth or think of spitting it out on the ground, but came up to me and forcefully spit out everything all over the right arm of my black fleece jacket and a small amount on my new black and white striped cotton dress. I had an impulse to ask the alpaca "why did you do that?" and then I remembered, you can't reason with an animal and life is just messy with animals....which we forget living in the city...and maybe he is just pissed to be stuck at the zoo (can't blame him).

LC ran back to feeding the sheep, since she said "I don't want the alpaca to spit on me." This made sense...since she is now careful to avoid anything coming out of animals. LC got pigeon-bombed a couple of months ago, when we were exiting a Brooklyn subway station, the droppings went right on her purple parka (at least her head was spared)...a 15 minute conversation ensued with LC asking me why pigeons don't watch where they poop and then she kept looking up when we walked.

The spider's web gave LC much joy at the zoo, as she climbed all over it...and it was a nice distraction for her while I wiped away the alpaca spit with a paper towel (at least no foul smell) and I was happy these two garments will be easily washed at home and don't require dry cleaning.

I do have to say, I used to enjoy the penguins exhibit tremendously...but after watching the computer-animated film "Happy Feet," it depresses me now to think of penguins held captive at zoos and aquariums...dazed and bored. It does seem like they are wishing to be in the wild and probably going insane in the confined space.

Two swans were honking loudly (cool sound)...they came out of the pond and were walking up on a patch of dirt to chase out a young zoo employee who was trying to clean up, so that drew a nice crowd.

LC was fascinated by the tropical birds in the rainforest habitat, so we were there quite a while...and it's exceptionally warm in that space, so it was nice to get outside again and feel the fresh spring air.