Gleek climbed up the rail right next to the sign forbidding rail climbing. She stretched out one finger toward the butterfly wafting on the slight breezes blowing through the rain forest exhibit. A bird swooped past us, on some feathered errand. Two stories below swam catfish the size of toddlers. We are inside the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco. It is much grander than I remember from my childhood visits.
“Come on! Lets go!” cried Patch.
He had already run ahead, tailed by my father. Gleek did not move, her whole being focused on the butterflies. She was not ready to leave. Patience was rewarded after about 10 minutes. A butterfly landed on Gleek’s out stretched finger. Only then could we move on.
The snake was huge. It lay submerged, but we could see it underwater through the glass. Gleek and Patch kneeled down on the floor to get a better view. The snake head slid toward them and they watched in facination. Gleek touched her finger to the glass. The snake focused on it, bumping its nose against the glass. Gleek slid her finger to the side and the snake followed it. Back and forth went finger and snake. We asked Gleek to give Patch a chance, but the minute she removed her finger, the spell was broken. The snake was not interested in Patch’s finger. It slid back to rest again.
The penguin dove under the water and bobbed up again. He swam around the tank, but always returned to the corner where Gleek and Patch sat. Penguin and children viewed each other through some water and some glass. The penguin bobbed and the children giggled.
“That one is named Dunker.” said the docent.
“I know why.” Gleek said confidently. “It’s because he is always dunking.”
Dunker dove again and bobbed against the glass. Gleek pressed her hand against the glass.