Love in The Time of Hot Flashes

I don’t know what my mother was thinking when she named me Vicki; I would have much preferred something stronger, more romantic such as, say, Fermina. I guess Fermina wasn’t a popular name in the fifties. Anyway.

The zoo and I are one. I love the time I spend over there. Our temperatures are dropping precipitously tonight with perhaps some snow showers in the early hours, but the past two days have been glorious brisk fall days, optimal for some high energy frolicking. Our two lionesses spent hours tossing around a large hard plastic barrel, delighting in rolling it over the edge of the moat, jumping down and flinging it about. The outdoor space is designed in such a way that they can jump down but not up; they rely on the keeper to slide the moat’s automatic egress door so they can head up the ramp, through their inside exhibit and back through the open door to the outside. Watching this play yesterday I was reminded of something my grandmother would often say: “Cats are always on the wrong side of the door.”

As the weather gets colder, the zoo will become a quieter place and although I enjoy the hustle and bustle of summer crowds, winter provides more opportunities to commune with the animals, talk with keepers and have thoughtful conversations with visitors who come because they are, like me, interested in the finer details of life at the zoo.

Historically, I have always disliked cold weather but this year I have a feeling it will bother me less. I seem to have developed my own personal internal convection oven and right about the time I’m thinking I should bundle into my handsome new winter docent jacket- fleece lined, wind and water proof, full of wonderful pockets and a super hood- well, that’s usually when I have to resist the impulse to rip off every stitch of clothing I have on. Dignity be damned, I can be seen tugging shirts out of my waistband and flapping them like sails on a boat. The animals don’t care.

Point in fact, some of the animals seem to be quite enamoured of me at this stage of my life. I spend a fair amount of time in the primate area and I’ve made several close friends. In particular, the female Drill will usually stop what she is doing and come over to place her hand on the glass in greeting. I put mine up to hers and sometimes we just visit in silence for quite a long time. Caruso, the white cheeked gibbon is another of my fans. He demonstrates his affection by swinging right over to the window as soon as he sees me and, um, ‘dancing’ as close to me as he can get. The grind. I was puzzled by their favor at first and then I flattered myself that they were tuning into and returning the special affection I have for them. This past weekend, as I was sorting through some pictures on iPhoto, I realized our true connection.


Here we have a female Drill


Here we have a female Docent


Here we have a male white cheeked gibbon affectionately grooming a female of his species.

You get the idea.

The cold blooded reptiles are also very fond of me. I hold snakes and skinks in the small reptile house so that visitors can get a closer look and I’ve discovered that they take particular delight in the heat I generate. Barney, the blue tongued skink, will be restlessly wiggling and then, right in step with the periodic glow from my furnace, he relaxes and snuggles right up against me. I suppose there could be worse things than finding your midlife niche as some scaly creature’s personal hot rock. It works for me.


20 responses to “Love in The Time of Hot Flashes

  1. *chuckling*

    that is all…

  2. Had I been drinking coffee when I read “personal hot rock,” I would’ve spit it all over my monitor. Thank G-d it’s late at night. My husband has always been the warm one in our relationship. (I call him thermonuclear heater man.) However, I’ve had the feeling a few times recently that that’s about to change.

    Love those three primate photos, by the way. And Barney’s pretty cute, too.

  3. Here I was looking for a racy post, and it’s about the zoo. I love it. What a way to spend your day. The animals don’t know how blessed they are to have you, dear Fermina, I mean, Vicki.

  4. What is the blue stuff hanging out of the skink’s mouth? Is that his tongue?

    You are so funny; Fermina? No,no,no, I much prefer Vicki or Victoria. I once started a novel and the main female in it was named Victoria. I perceive it as classy and also fiery! LOL

    About the body heat? Mr. kenju cold heat up a room before the stroke, now he is cold all the time. I, however, have turned direction and I am warmer than he is. Makes for some interesting ups and downs of the thermostat, although he cannot get to it as easily as he used to (for which I am thankful). The power bill has gone down nicely!

  5. Really? Fermina? Is that pronounced Fur-mine-ah or Fur-meen-ah? Either way . . . I think Vicki is a better choice. Are you a Vicki or a Victoria? Victoria is a lovely romantic name and doesn’t make me think of some out-of-favor food product.

    Personal Hot Rock. That is awesome!

  6. Whenever I have made deep eye contact with a primate at the zoo, I have always interpreted their longing and penetrating gaze as a request to free them. I could be projecting, though.

    Now that my internal thermostat seems to be set at sweat level, I should start looking for skinks to warm up. It just never occurred to me, but a fantastic idea.

    I have never heard the name Fermina before. I can’t tell yet if it’s strong and romantic.

  7. I L O V E the hot rock reference. Having housed many reptiles and blue-tailed skinks (skinks must have a fetish for the color blue) while married to a California State Park Ranger, I purchased my share of hot rocks. But now being a bit passed middle age I know the out-of-wack thermostat problem…

  8. 😉 Fermina Daza is the main female character in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. She is an aging lover of animals and buys a talking parrot who becomes a major plot vehicle in the book.

    Robin, that is projection on your part- I’m guilty of that sort of thinking all the time and proud of it. It ties us to our humanity in the best sense. Actually, primates only make direct eye contact as a territorial imperative. They most always look sideways to measure their world and communicate with each other. Stare downs are power struggles. Curiously, in zoos, female apes will sometimes make eye contact with women who strike them in some fashion- and I do suspect gray/white/silver hair is one of the triggers. Age and lighter hair are significant markers of dominance and power.

    Captive born apes clearly have the same instincts and notions about social order as wild born. I’m not sure they have some collective unconscious that drives them logn for freedom. Wait. This is turning into my next post….xoxox

    Kenju- that is indeed his tongue. Cute, yes?

  9. Ah you answered my question. I was wondering if that was blue slobber or blue tongue.

    Btw, I will be in your area around March 🙂
    I will let you know the details.

  10. You are very attractive hot rock… Fermina. 😀

  11. That skink looks completely … satisfied … to be where he is.

  12. You made me laugh. I love how you took a frustration (hot flashes) and put a postive spin on it. that lizard is one lucky fellow.

  13. We all bask in the warmth of your furnace, Victoria.

    Is that blue tongue transforming into liquid? Awesome.

    I’m going to pass on Fermina if this babe in my tummy (who just this second gave me a good strong kick–first one) turns out to be a girl. That name sounds like one of the hot cereals my Dad used to make me eat.

  14. Raehan! It’s a sign! A Fermina she is!

  15. You don’t look like a Fermina though; I’m not sure that you look like a Vicki either. Hmmm…are you saying that you look like a primate mate or that you are so “hot” that no animal can resist you? Have you told Rich yet?

  16. Got your comment on my blog. Don’t feel guilty we didn’t get together while you were in Florida. My life was out of control so it actually was for the best we didn’t try to get together. Later, when we can really visit. Let me know about the tour. I would really like to see it though it sounds like your house will be more my style. Those pictures you posted from the florist were way over the top!

  17. You don’t want to be a Fermina. Maybe an Angeloulou. Benjamina?

    I love your hairdo. Reminds me of the lady in Hemingway’s story/movie who had been captured by the Nazis. Short hair, nicely did/done.

  18. Actually, maybe I should name the baby raehan and then retire my blog name.

  19. Fermina Márquez –
    That’s what I says.

  20. I’m stuck on the fact that you have always disliked cold weather. You lived in MICHIGAN, for God’s sake. Until you moved to the much warmer clime of CHICAGO.

    Thank goodness for Florida.

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