I once had the great privilege of watching a mama coyote step out into the cool morning air of the forest, stop and look at me, and then look over her shoulder where I saw her very young pups exit their den and come tumbling after her, rolling and wrestling with each other, feeling perfectly safe and at ease and full of joy in the early morning light. It’s remained one of my most cherished memories actually, and I think of it often. When I opened the door to Young’s Hill for the seven this morning, that memory lit up in my mind’s eye again as I watched them literally spill out of the door and onto the hill together, Jamie in the lead, Missy and Jody wrestling and grabbing one another’s feet all the way up the hill behind Jamie, followed by Annie and Foxie chasing each other as they took their joy-filled procession around the perimeter.
As I followed the girls I caught sight of Burrito, hesitantly bringing up the rear. He has been accompanying them around the hill, but sometimes appears unsure about having to catch up on his own or being able to keep up with their speed. Burrito is healing so well, but understandably, he’s still working on gaining his full strength and stamina back. Once he saw that I was waiting for him he immediately did his patented hop and skip (I don’t think we’ve caught this on video yet, but it’s an adorable little springy-bouncey-kick-of-the-back-legs thing only B does) which my heart did in turn at the sight of him, and we were off. We occasionally stopped along the way so he could rest and take in the sights and I just followed at his pace.
This one melts my heart a little. Whenever I’d slow down, he would give a little jump and make sure I was still coming:
Annie sat silently for the longest time, just taking in the view and the sunshine:
It was just one of those lucky days when all ten of the chimpanzees concurred with my plans for shifting and cleaning today so that right after breakfast everyone was able to scoot outside, where they remained for the majority of the day! It’s been possibly the warmest, sunniest day we’ve this winter and everyone was basking in all the light. **A sidenote for those who may be wondering: Mave, Honey B and Willy B continue to have frequent opportunities to access their own private courtyard along Young’s Hill, but they haven’t been ready to leave the comfort and familiarity of the chute yet and that’s okay. They’ll get there, or not, in their own time and way. In the meantime, they seem to thoroughly enjoy hanging out in the chute, watching the other chimps, hooting and hollering, taking in the sights and the sun. And to be honest, they still tend to spend the majority of their time inside even when they have access to the chute. But it’s always their choice, just as it should be.
It didn’t take long for Jody and Foxie to realize that Mave, Willy B, and Honey B had chute access and could be spied upon from their spot on Young’s Hill:
I looked up to see Negra multi-tasking from her favorite spot in the playroom: baking in the sun, taking in the view and keeping an eye on the neighbors while blowing an occasional kiss to caregivers:
These were from a couple days ago when there was still a dusting of snow on the ground. It’s just so heart-lifting to see everyone enjoying these sunny, crisp midwinter days outside, or indoors from a variety of sun puddles.
Foxie and Strawberry Shortcake:
Jody searching for an ice treat:
I’ll end with a quick story from this morning. If you’ve been following the blog awhile you are probably aware of Burrito’s complete and utter obsession with eating snow this season. He’s always loved it, but this year is a whole other level of snow snack love. Before we’re even fully in the chimp house in the morning, he makes sure we know the first order of business is to get him a snow snack immediately. And I do mean immediately. He’s madly blowing raspberries, kicking the caging and pointing out the window and will NOT be ignored (not that we would ignore him 😉 ). We’re only to happy to oblige, but with these spring-like days the snow is all but gone. But yesterday, I found one remaining pile down the driveway and along the shady side of the barn. So staff caregiver Chad was sent on a mission this morning and returned a bit later with a hammer, frozen fingers and two buckets of snow, much to B’s delight. Now Burrito’s latest thing is to finish up the day by having a final snow snack before bed as well! We are going to have to buy bags of ice and fire up the snow-cone machine before long to keep him in snow snacks year-round I guess.